Anonymity And Race Are An Explosive Mix At Salve Regina (Allegedly)

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The SRU Mosaic reports that an announcement about the Black Student Union on the chat app Yik Yak got a hostile response.

If there’s one thing that the Internet has demonstrated in the last 20 years, it’s that being anonymous can bring out “uncivil” behavior. People will either be far blunter than they would be if they were in public…or they’ll say ridiculous things in order to get a reaction AKA “trolling”. In recent years, Google and Facebook have gone to great lengths to make people less anonymous. Google’s Youtube was historically a hotbed of vicious comments, flame wars and the like. Google tried to clamp down on such behavior by tying Youtube user names to actual Google accounts.

Of course, as those social networks (and their user bases) mature, young people go looking for social networks where their parents (and grandparents and aunts and uncles, cops, etc.) aren’t looking over their shoulders.

They’ve found it in Yik Yak, an app which combines geographical proximity and anonymity. The issue here is that if you are being trolled by someone on a random website, there’s no threat of proximity. Someone saying terrible things about your mother has a good chance of living in their parents’ basement in Nebraska or Seattle or Beijing. With Yik Yak, the people who respond to a post are nearby, but their anonymity allows them to act with a cloak of invisibility.

So when the topic turns to race, things can (and did) get nasty quick. Salve Regina University’s student paper The Mosaic reports that a post about a Black Student Union meeting went south pretty fast. Here are some screen shots they captured. In this conversation “OP” is the original poster, while other commenters are assigned random symbols to identify them in the conversation.

Salve Black Student Union 1

Salve Black Student Union 2

Salve Black Student Union 3

Salve Black Student Union 4

Salve Black Student Union 5Salve Black Student Union 6

Once word got out, Salve’s President was quick to respond.


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