Yik Yak: Anonymous Messaging App Induces Race-Based Bullying

Photo Courtesy of Yik Yak

Yik Yak, an emerging social media application where individuals can share their thoughts anonymously, has been a hot button issue on college campuses across the nation. The app is essentially an anonymous version of Twitter that identifies your location and allows you to communicate with people in your area. 

Although this application does a good job of bringing communities together to increase comradery on college campuses because it is pretty inclusive in addressing questions about sexuality, local news and campus questions—it has also become a breeding ground for harsh comments and race-based bullying that needs to be addressed by the campus administration.

What started out as a relatable app has become a virtual social issues classroom, without the facilitator to keep the peace. Little to no discretion is saved since many members of the Yik Yak community spew out whatever comes to mind about any and all topics. 

Users have the option of standing up for what is right, or turning a blind eye to the harsh criticisms made by students of the campus community. As the popular saying goes, “it costs nothing to be nice,” but it costs nothing to be insensitive too—especially on a free social media application. 

Toward the end of fall semester, discussions regarding Mike Brown, the unarmed black teen who was fatally shot by a white police officer, sparked conflict between people who fell on opposing sides of the officer's non-guilty verdict.

The Black Student Union held a die-in protest in the Student Center in mid-December. The student-led protest lasted for four minutes to represent the four hours Mike Brown was left in the street after he was fatally shot by the Missouri police officer.

During common hour, nearly one hundred bodies lay on the floor to show solidarity with the "Black Lives Matter" movement. Some students took to Yik Yak to show their disapproval of the event.

Some of the comments read:

“Please tell me people aren’t seriously doing a die in today”

“I’m curious…what did they hope to accomplish with this protest?”

“Can we organize a protest against blacks on campus?”

Ramapo College is supposed to be a supportive community, but this app creates a divide between people who advocate for awareness surounding social justice and ignorant, intolerant people who wish to maintain the oppressive system that inhibits and disenfranchises people of color. 

Questions and comments are welcome about certain topics and dicussions about race, ethnicity and the recent campus protests, but it seems as though the recent negative responses on Yik Yak are due to the app's anonymity.

With such remarks coming to the surface, students of color are wondering what other negative comments are in store, just a scroll away.

By suggesting a protest against a race of people for no reason at all, this social media app takes cyberbullying to a new level. The app's content is no better than a hate group organizing to spread malicious messages, and it should be taken very seriously by the College.  

The Black Student Union, Diversity Action Commitee Student Club and College Panhellenic Council, on Feb. 19, are organizing a discussion about Yik Yak that will touch on the fundamental differences between freedom of speech and hate speech, cyberbullying and how anonymity grants people courage, in addition to having already formed a petition that aims to ban the app from the campus entirely.

Since nationwide college administrators are taking action to ban this app daily, we can only hope that Ramapo College is next.