A large group of 72 women’s and civil rights groups have asked for the Department of Education’s help in protecting students and faculty from abusive speech and threats made on university campuses via the Yik Yak app. In a letter published this week, the organizations seek a formal “guidance” to colleges from the Department’s Office of Civil Rights and hope to specifically put such online threats under the umbrella of federal gender and racial equality legislation.
The purportedly anonymous social network allows users to leave messages within a certain geographic area. While the company’s website doesn’t use the word “anonymous,” it does boast on its Features page that users can “keep their privacy” while on the app. In some cases, Yik Yak has handed over user data to law enforcement to prosecute people making violent threats.
These groups, which include the Feminist Majority Foundation, Advocates for Youth, and the National Black Justice Coalition, say that some complaints already filed with the Department of Education have gone nowhere. Why? Because the existing guidance does not specifically make reference to Yik Yak and other similar social networks.