Cyber-bullying is out of control. The New York Times reports on Yik Yak the latest App used on college campuses to bully, harass, shame, embarrass and (yes) threaten coeds, college professors and others. Yik Yak allows users of the app to post anonymously--without a profile. Yik Yak is sorted by small geographical spaces (for example, a college campus).
When showed what some of the students sitting in a large lecture hall had been texting about her during the lecture, Margaret Crouch, professor of philosophy at Eastern Michigan University said,“I have been defamed, my reputation besmirched. I have been sexually harassed and verbally abused. I am about ready to hire a lawyer.”
See Mahler, Jonathan. "Who Spewed That Abuse? Anonymous Yik Yak App Isn’t Telling." The New York Times, March 8, 2015, Technology sec. Accessed May 11, 2015. http://nyti.ms/1BgogBw
What is Yik Yak? Danielle Keats Citron, a law professor at University of Maryland and the author of “Hate Crimes in Cyberspace” has said: “Yik Yak is the Wild West of anonymous social apps,” said “It is being increasingly used by young people in a really intimidating and destructive way.”
The serious part of this discussion? According to a study conducted by the Pew Foundation, teens' behavior models to a great extent the behavior of their parents. See Lenhart, Amanda. "Teens, Social Media & Technology Overview 2015." Pew Research Center, Internet, Science & Tech sec. April 9, 2015 Accessed May 11, 2015. http://tinyurl.com/mrf2cxw. See also a new article on the topic. North, Anna. "On Social Media, Teens Aren’t So Different After All." The New York Times, April 10, 2015, Technology sec. Accessed May 11, 2015. http://nyti.ms/1Ek9dso.What's the message? 24% of teens are on the Internet and on social media sites "almost constantly."
What is scary about this? Money drives the train. YikYak, brought online in 2013 has garnered venture capital of tens of millions of dollars. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yik_Yak It is not going away. Can college and high school campuses control it? Probably not. YikYak just got $62 million in venture capital from Sequoia Capital (not YikYak's first infusion of venture capital).
I see it, you see it . . . it seems as though a lot of hours each day are wasted exchanging some kind of chatter with others. Some may call it mindless. I call it irritating . . . like the girl texting two rows ahead of me at the opera two weeks ago. Her screen lit up each time she touched the keypad and was disruptive in the darkened theater.
Hate crimes and cyber-bullying are hurtful, destructive in many different ways, Posts on Facebook, Youtube and other social media cites have caused mortified young people to commit suicide rather than face the ostracism of their classmates and/or the fact that the information publicly posted may cause their families shame or cause a family rift. Remember Tyler Clementi, an 18-year-old Rutgers University freshman who killed himself in September 2010 after discovering that his roommate had secretly used a webcam to stream Mr. Clementi’s romantic interlude with another man on Youtube.
Monica Lewinsky delivered a powerful TedTalk about the destructive nature of cyberbullying. Her message? Cyberbullying can destroy the victim--socially, emotionally or, like Clementi, physically.