Major Win for Feminists Majority Foundation in case against the University of Mary Washington.

Yik Yak, a popular app used by College students in 2014, was under fire when members of the student group Feminists United say they were subjected to cyberbullying, cyberstalking and threats of sexual assault after they spoke out against Greek life on campus and against a distasteful chant the rugby team was recorded singing. Harassment came largely via Yik Yak, a now-defunct social media tool that used geotargeting to allow people on campus to make comments anonymously about others on the campus. In this case, the harassment was not the kind of mocking of feminists that is omnipresent online, but specific threats of violent acts, accompanied by the whereabouts of members of Feminists United, who were identified by name.

Yik Yak was a social media smartphone application that was launched in 2013. It was available for iOS and Android and it allowed people to create and view discussion threads anonymously within a 5-mile radius.

The jury found that officials at Yik Yak could and should have done more to protect students from online harassment.

The incident happened back in 2014 and 2015 and the case was dismissed last years after a Judge found that because the harassment took place on a platform that the University of Mary Washington had very little control over. The group also brought the issue at hand up as aTitle XI case, the Judge also said, “Title IX does not require the school to meet specific demands of its students “.

The case was taken to appellate court where the court ruled 2 to 1 on Wednesday that feminist students who sued the University of Mary Washington for failing to protect them from anonymous online harassment were entitled to pursue their lawsuit. The decision reversed a ruling by a lower court to throw out the lawsuit on First Amendment and other grounds.

This is not the first time the App has been found in the middle of controversy. Yik Yak’s image problems seemed to stem from its reliance on anonymous posts and the few solutions that were available to curtail racist, sexist, aggressive or threatening language.  The app faced a barrage of public image problems, as the platform became known for issues like cyberbullying due to the anonymous nature of user posts. Many high schools used geofences to ban Yik Yak from its campuses and there were several cases of the police subpoenaing Yik Yak after threats were made on the app. With its poor public image, Yik Yak failed to find any substantial advertisers and couldn’t find a sustainable business model.

 

In this case, the school was found to be negligent but many think the app is to blame for not having stricter guidelines and policies.

 

Published by GetnSocial

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