Saturday, February 14, 2015

Some don't hold back while using Yik Yak (see what I did there)

I think it's very interesting what people will say on anonymous social media sites such as Yik Yak. Once someone posts something offensive they feel like they aren't connected to their posts because no one knows that it is them. The main issue with this is that people, especially young people who use the app the most are not holding themselves accountable for their posts. Young people often don't think deeply about the consequences of their actions until after it happens, which I get. It's part of living young and wild and free. Although as Americans we all have the right to free speech we should be smarter about the choices we make on social media and be careful not to abuse our right. Yes, we are young. Yes, we feel invincibile at our age and yes, we feel as though we should do everything we can now before we are older saying we wish we should have done something when we were younger (I hear my parents say it all the time). However that is besides the point.

I do not think it is necessary to ban the mobile app because then the issue with free speech will come into play. Yik Yak isn't the only social media site that people say what they want to say. Social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook are loaded with comments that may be offensive, that people may disagree with and that may be threatening. This makes it way easier for police to not prevent but to investigate crimes such as the recent shootings in Chapel Hill when the shooter commented on his Facebook page about religion and something hinted toward his neighbors.

We should also realize that these posts on Yik Yak are not really anonymous. There are a number of ways that investigators can track someone just by the cell phone or computer they had when they wrote the post. In this day in age with the Internet and social media we have to be smarter about our decisions. Otherwise we are bound to frighten our communities and the people we love. Once it's out there it is out there. People want their voices heard, so I think banning it would make people angrier.

Yik Yak can have a positive side though as with any social media site by bringing the community together, entertaining people and encouraging others. Cam Mullen, Yik Yak's lead community developer said "What people often don't mention is all the other ways you can use it for good and how Yik Yak had united communities." Yes it has it's ups and downs like a committed relationship, but it is nonetheless a step forward in our abilities to communicate as human beings and to study how people do it.

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