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Cyber Bullying: From Desktops to Mobile Devices

Today, people are attached to their cell phones.  They are used to send text messages, receive and send emails, go on Facebook, pay for groceries and bills, and more. What is the point of having any other sense of technology sometimes? Everything you ever need is in the palm of your hand.  However, since the internet was created in the late 60s, bullying has changed from stealing lunch money, throwing someone in a dumpster, and giving them a  swirilie.  Cyberbullying is the number one type of bullying used today, among adolescents. According to the National Crime Prevention Council (NCPC) 43% of teens reported that they have experienced cyberbullying(2007). The National Center for Education Statistics, estimated that about 2.2 million 9-12th grade students experienced cyberbullying in 2011.  However, this is a skewed number, because there are still students that will not admit to being cyberbullied do to the negative stigma of being a victimNational Center for Education Statistics, 2013). The cyberbullying generation is no where near done yet.

On November 6, 2013, the online world changed again.  Yik Yak was born.  Yik Yak creators, Brooks Buffington and Tyler Doll, created the app for the use of college students to be like a flyer bulletin board. It was and still is a place to anonymously post messages about whatever the “Yakker” wants in a 1.5 mile radius. After radical growth within the southern states (The company was founded in Georgia) and ACC and SEC college campuses, Yik Yak spread to high schools.

There, bullying took over the flyer like bulletin board platform.  Even though, Yik Yak is an  anonymous media source, the location of where a yak was sent from is recorded.  In March 2014, the company decided to add a list of rules to help stop bullying.  These rules include not using Yik Yak as a form of bullying, a zero tolerance policy for bullies, and that one’s account can be suspended for  offensive yaks.  They also included a new feature that created the app to be blocked (an error message would appear when opened) near any high schools or middle schools.  The user would be told to relocate to use the app(Shontell,2015).

Buddington and Doll, saw that they were about to use their power (due to the idea of the iron law), and did not want to upset the parental population of their customers.  They looked at what they saw as their corporate social responsibility and took an integrity-based ethical approach to try ad minimize cyberbullying through their app at high and middle schools before it got to the point of no return. Yik Yak was commended by the business world for their pro-active approach and ability to sacrifice millions of potentials foe the great good of society(Shontell, 2015). However was it enough?

In March of 2img_3876-2.png015, a year after the blocking of high school and middle school users was released, the New York Times released an article about cyberbullying on college campuses. The  article discussed how universities are unable to do anything about the use of the social media application. It has caused angst and destress for professors and students alike.  One female professor at Eastern Michigan University was showed the application by her teaching assistant after a lecture.  The posts were about the professor and mentioned her in demeaning light with sexually explicit imagery and language.  The professor went to university officials with screen shots of the vulgar content,  but nothing came of it.  Due to the fact that it was impossible to determine who “yaked” about her. Another example of cyberbullying in the article was about sophomore, Jordan Seman at Middlebury College. Seman was on her own to combat the yak about her.  The college did nothing.  She wrote an article in the school paper, and the paper has since written more articles about ending the use of the app on Middlebury’s campus, but nothing has changed(Mahler, 2015).

With Yik Yak causing more, and more problems at institutions across the country, what is their social responsibility? Should it be in the hands of the government to determine if the app should be shut down? Or does the company need to reevaluate their ethical code and social responsibility to monitoring who yaks what? In today’s age of a need for privacy, the company’s anonymous feature is what students are appealed to.  IP addresses are embedded into each laptop and computer in the world, is it time for them to be embedded into cell phones?  This can make Yik Yak lose devoted customers, but can help in the prosecution of negative and harmful yaks. When will the political community step in to take action?

Is privacy or an ethical moral code more important in today’s society?

 

 

References

Mahler, J. (2015, March 8). Who Spewed That Abuse? Anonymous Yik Yak App Isn’t Telling. Retrieved October 25, 2015, from http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/09/technology/ popular-yik-yak-app-confers-anonymity-and-delivers-abuse.html?_r=0

National Center for Education Statistics. (2013, August 1). Student Reports of Bullying and Cyber-Bullying: Results From the 2011 School Crime Supplement to the National Crime Victimization Survey. Retrieved October 25, 2015, from http://nces.ed.gov/ pubs2013/2013329.pdf

National Crime Prevention Council. (2007, February 28). Teens and Cyberbullying. Retrieved October 25, 2015, from http://www.ncpc.org/resources/files/pdf/bullying/Teens and Cyberbullying Research Study.pdf

Shontell, A. (2015, March 12). How 2 Georgia fraternity brothers created Yik Yak, a controversial app that became a ~$400 million business in 365 days. Retrieved October 25, 2015, from http://www.businessinsider.com/the-inside-story-of-yik-yak-2015-3

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