In the past few days there has been an uproar at my school about the anonymous social media app, Yik Yak. Some posts were made that were racist and I’ve heard hate crimes were threatened, but I can’t confirm that. These comments have created a huge uproar on the campus, which is reasonable, I guess. Yik Yak is by definition an anonymous app. Most people on campus use it for hooking up or complaining about classes. There is a downvote option and posts that have too many downvotes will be deleted. The only record of the racist comments are in screenshots because people did downvote the posts and other users can report the posts and hateful language to Yik Yak staff. Then they can take action against the user that posted the hateful words without compromising their anonymity.
Ignoring the hateful words, reporting the poster and downvoting the post are all great ways to deal with hate speech. However, Mary Baldwin College has decided to ban Yik Yak. The IT department can ban Yik Yak from the wifi, but, from what I have heard, without back up from law enforcement, MBC cannot get the app to stop its services in this area. This means students will still be able to use Yik Yak on their data plans. There was a senate vote today which is when the decision was made to ban Yik Yak. (UPDATE: This vote apparently was just a vote to introduce the motion to ban Yik Yak. The regulation itself has not passed yet.) I understand I should’ve spoken out then, but I could not attend the meeting. Instead, I am writing this blog post to get my ideas out there without accidentally making myself look like a racist asshole which still may happen. I will edit and revise this blog post to keep myself from looking like a fool, but it still may happen. So please, comment below with your opinion and share with your friends to get their opinions too.
Banning Yik Yak is stupid. That’s it. The way to deal with hate speech and the people making it is not to create a huge stink about a few comments and banning a widely used app. This gives the original poster power over us. As I said above, Yik Yak can take actions against the poster and other users can downvote and report the post to have it removed. Talking about the posts and letting everyone know that this type of speech is not okay it important, but banning Yik Yak is just trying to put a stopper into people’s mouths. The free speech argument is often used by assholes to explain why they are being horrible to others, but in this case, I am not advocating for letting people post hate speech on Yik Yak. I am advocating for teaching people that posting hate speech is not okay and will not be tolerated. Some may think banning Yik Yak is the best way to show people that hate speech will not be tolerated, but there are other ways. Reporting the post to Yik Yak works and openly talking about the horrible posts works too.
The comments in these posts were specifically racist which is why they caused a huge stink. However, last year there were hateful comments about LGBT people on Yik Yak and the college did nothing. The students talked about it and said “That’s not okay.” The posts were downvoted and they disappeared. We did not ask the college to ban Yik Yak. We did not give that power to the original poster of the hate speech.
I do not want to make a very long post. I just wanted to offer up my opinions on the matter. Banning Yik Yak is not the best way to deal with this. People who want to make hateful comments will just find another place to do it and banning Yik Yak will only annoy the students who don’t have large data plans. Everyone else will still use it with their 3G. Students will not stop using Yik Yak and the hate speech will not stop if Yik Yak is banned. Instead, we should promote diversity and inclusion by spreading love and not giving power to hateful people.
That is all. Enjoy your day and enjoy using Yik Yak before the college tries to silence us.
EDIT: P.S. I stand behind removing hateful comments and posts from social media because they are attacking others. I do not stand behind the banning of an app that promotes free speech.