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UR Asks App to Reveal Identities of Anonymous Posters

Mar 9, 2015

Representatives from University of Rochester are responding to racist, threatening posts on Yik Yak by asking the app to hand over the names of the posters.

Yik Yak is an anonymous posting app. Anyone can download it to their smartphone, share 200 character open messages, and view posts within a ten mile radius. For a bunch of reasons, Yik Yak has really found its niche on college campuses. Students often post about parties, professors, or other people, and sometimes it gets obscene and dark.

Sara Miller is a spokesperson from the University of Rochester. She says students have been using the app to spew hate speech.

"You know, however anonymous the language is, the effect of what it said is the same in that it's still deeply hurtful to people and sometimes threatening and that's what we feel is not acceptable."

UR's legal counsel issued a letter to Yik Yak, pressing them to reveal the identity of "yakkers" who posted certain messages on the app. The letter describes the messages as racist, threatening, and in violation of Yik Yak's terms of service as well as the university's code of conduct.

Miller says the university has heard back from the app and they are evaluating that response.

Yik Yak issued this statement:

"As all social app platforms have experienced, the threat of misuse is often unavoidable and it’s important that app makers identify and respond to each instance immediately to address these types of posts. Yik Yak makes a point to work with law enforcement and other officials when a post is violent in nature. Whenever possible, Yik Yak works alongside local authorities to help with investigations. Additionally, the app also monitors conversations and posts, and any negative or harmful behavior can result in the respective user being blocked, or altogether banned from future use. Yik Yak continues to build out this technology to ensure positive interaction, but is also finding that as more users sign up and start using the app, each community begins to self-police itself in a positive way."