By Nick Beaulieu, Editor-In-Chief
Anonymity can bring out the worst in people. It’s natural that when protected from actions, ideas and statements being attached to themselves and their image, people will say just about anything.
With the new app Yik Yak, people can write tweet-like posts that are then voted up or down by other users. The app then pulls “yaks” for your feed based on your location. It has opened a Pandora’s box of anonymous behavior, resulting in tasteless and cowardly posts towards the university, subgroups and sometimes specific people.
“Yaks” like this:
“To the dude wearing the Oregon shirt and shorts; please don’t open your mouth to speak ever again. Thanks. Sincerely, any UNO student who has ever been within 20 feet of you.”
“Sure are a lot of Arabs on the UNO flight team…”
These are just two of the many offensive jabs that can be found regularly on the app. Many others get even more vulgar, containing rumors and grotesque statements towards specific groups, victims ranging from athletic teams at the University of Nebraska at Omaha to Greek organizations.
In between the consistent and unoriginal yaks about sex and drinking, you’ll find many people complaining about Yik Yak on Yik Yak…so what’s the point?
Nothing but cheap entertainment at the expense of others comes from Yik Yak, unless you like seeing jokes that appeared on Reddit or Twitter months prior.
Today is the information age, where the thirst to know everything and anything possible is higher than ever before. But giving those who hide behind a shadow of the light of day is not justified.
Beyond the stupid riff raff, the effect that some posts can have can be detrimental and dangerous to organizations too.
Without any risk of statements being tied back to the poster and the limited number of words a post can have, a dangerous combination of libelous material.
Even when certain statements are obviously untrue, or so extreme they’re hard to believe, organizations still get negative content attached to their name and brand.
Creighton University issued a statement pleading students not to use the app for this exact reason. Yes, Creighton is a private institution, not a state school like UNO, which makes the move more sensible.
But I don’t want UNO to make a statement. I want the students to decide. Everyone has the freedom to use whatever apps they want, but in an age where everyone can have a digital voice, people also have a responsibility in the content they put out there.
A Business Insider article from 2013 titled “10 Ways to Get Arrested For Tweeting,” shows the legal repercussion that can come from social media use. One of them include tweeting religious and anti-religious statements at someone.
Because of the way Yik Yak has been used, students are not only dipping below the realm of maturity that should be expected, but they’re also fueling a potential revolution that could destroy “anonymous” media with personal data tracking and collection if serious threats were to rise on the app.
Our parents and teachers told us growing up not to gossip, and it’s even more important to listen to that now when anyone’s thoughts can be seen around the world.
If you like using the app and seeing degrading or nasty stuff on Yik Yak, vote it down. Internet privacy and freedom have been debated topics the last few years. Could Yik Yak sway the trend in a dark direction?
If so, it’s not worth Yaking about.