The advent of the anonymous social media app Yik Yak has not just been a hot topic in the ACU community. Many universities and schools across the nation are having to address some of the problems the app causes.
“It is impossible to think that we are the only ones having this discussion,” said Scott Kilmer, director of online marketing for ACU. “Schools like SMU and University of Miami are having huge issues in dealing with this app.”
Last spring, the SMU Student Senate was voting on adding a seat for an LGBT representative. The measure was passed among the senate members at a vote of 43 to 3, but the student body failed to pass the two-thirds majority needed to ratify the position, according to the Lone Star Q. A case was made among the student body that Yik Yak was used to both rally support for those opposed to the measure, and to also stage homophobic attacks and cyber-bullying against the LGBT community at SMU.
“Yik Yak also deals with more serious things other than hate speech, such as bomb threats,” Kilmer said. “There is that level of seriousness that is out there.”
Kilmer said unlike in the past when Twitter and Facebook accounts have falsely represented the university, he believes Yik Yak represents more of the community voice, and, while it does not represent ACU as a whole, it represents the community and student body.
“We do not have a specific way of policing Yik Yak because we don’t have access to everyone’s personal info, but what we see is that the conversation has definitely changed since the first week of school,” Kilmer said.
Phillip Lamborn, a senior political science major from San Diego, California, believes that Yik Yak has gotten worse since its first arrival on campus last semester.
“Yik Yak has always been crude, but it used to be clever remarks toward ACU and other people. Now its essentially freshman complaining about 8 a.m.’s and Chapel every day,” Lamborn said.
Lamborn also mentioned that while the posts are unpleasant, he doesn’t believe ACU should take any action.
“I don’t thing its ACU’s business what people talk about on an anonymous social media site if it doesn’t directly affect ACU,” Lamborn said.
Although for the most part Yik Yak has received negative attention, Kilmer said he sees a trend in the community starting to build a positive platform.
“I’m not thrilled that there is essentially a peek page into our conversations where someone from outside could peek in and potentially throw darts, but it is showing self-correction,” Kilmer said. “On any social platform we have had to work with, all the way back to Myspace, at some point people start to choose that they don’t want to be a part of that, and that’s what we are starting to see here.”
Kilmer said he thinks it is always worth remembering there is always a digital trace to everything posted on the internet. From the Snapchat picture database a year ago to the iCloud scandal this week, Kilmer encouraged students to remember there is always a signature when posting online.
“We have a lot of work to do as a community in how we are going to coexist in person as well as over social networks, but that’s the purpose when you come to college. It’s part of our mission statement as a university,” Kilmer said. “It’s a good discussion to have. If Yik Yak is what starts this discussion, so be it. The technology doesn’t matter, what matters is, someone is feeling this way. Someone is having these thoughts. If you have those thoughts and they are positive, why are you not sharing them? And if you have a thought on the less positive side, why are you waiting until Yik Yak to talk to someone about this?”