Anonymity is considered one of the best benefits of the Internet. People are free to say what they want, how they want, at the click of a button. What happens though when people go too far?

On November 7th 2014 student government, here at UMD, passed a resolution calling for the discontinuation of Yik-Yak on campus.

Before I go any further let me explain what Yik-Yak is for those of you who aren’t aware.

Yik-Yak is an anonymous social media app. The app allows people to anonymously create and view “Yaks” (which can be anything people are in the mood to share with the world) within a 10 mile radius of them. Yik-Yak users can rate the “Yaks” and then they are ranked by popularity among the users.

Amber Gasser the Chair of the Student and Academic Affairs Committee said that,“It was brought to student government’s attention that Yik-Yak was being used to post nasty comments about people around campus.” Student government passed the resolution because they do not support the use of the app nor they do support their members using it.

Student government’s resolution highlighted the main issues with Yik-Yak:

“Yik-Yak has become a venue for anonymous hate speech, sexual harassment, and other impermissible forms of discrimination and Yik-Yak users on the University of Michigan-Dearborn campus and surrounding areas have begun targeting specific groups based on ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, appearance, religion, and culture …”

The resolution also points out that the app’s contents are a direct violation of UMD’s Code of Conduct and Mission Statement making it even more unacceptable.

Yik-Yak’s creators recognize the issues of an anonymous app such as this one and address it on their webpage “We’re committed to making Yik Yak a safe environment and keeping users ages 17+ on the app. To do this, we actively block high school and middle schools from Yik Yak via geofences. Parents can also block the app from through Restrictions settings on their child’s iOS device” This statement leaves something to be desired. Cyberbullying is not strictly a teen and “tween” issue.

Even though student government can not force UMD students to discontinue use of Yik-Yak there is something else that can be done.

Yik-Yak offers the service to create a “geofence” around a school, or university to anyone who feels the app is doing more harm then good. The fence prevents the app from loading on users phones if they are in within certain limits of the fenced off location. There is an online form that can be filled out with the name of the school, and the longitude and latitude of the area in need of a geofence. The form is pretty simple and the Yik-Yak website promises to get the fence up and running within 72 hours of form submission (give or take the volume of submissions they received that day). A geofence seems to be the best way to handle this ongoing problem.