Demand 11: Yik Yak

via community letter, Nov. 11, 2015: RESOLVED Fall, 2017

"Acknowledging foremost that all kinds of speech are not protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America which states "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances," Emory University shall not protect the privilege of students to vocalize hate speech. The social app Yik Yak has been utilized on Emory's campus to post messages similar in sentiment to the following posts: "So Black people can complain about their f***ing microaggressions and whatever but if I as a white person feel unsafe or uncomfortable for any reason, I'm ignorant. F*** that", "I'm about to **** *** to ebony porn to help race relations", and "Let's be real. Black lives matter is a sham. It's not because you're black. It's because you're selling crack and ran from a police officer." This is hate speech, which is defined by the American Bar Association as "speech that offends, threatens, or insults groups, based on race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, disability, or other traits." Whereas, this fits the description of the aforementioned posts as it did to the Swastika painted on the fraternity house of Alpha Epsilon Pi (which was swiftly removed by the authorities), it is illogical for Emory to remain impartial in the matter at hand. On October 11th 2015, Emily Sacamoto was arrested on Emory's Oxford campus for posting "I'm shooting up the school. Tomorrow. Stay in your rooms. The ones on the quad are the ones who will go first." Though the federal Stored Communications Act (18 U.S.C. § 2701) prevents Yik Yak from disclosing the account information of a user without an official request from law enforcement, it is impermissible to allow racist students to terrorize Black people on any form of media and the anonymity that Yik Yak provides is a breeding ground for behavior of that sort. Hence, we demand that Emory University Information Technology Services formally request that Yik Yak, Inc. install a geofence covering the zip code 30322 in order to protect our students from subjection to intolerable and psychologically detrimental material."

Information Technology Services and the University Senate formed a task force that included students, faculty, and staff to examine the feasibility of a geofence covering the zip codes for Emory University, including Oxford College. It was determined in 2016 that a geofence was not feasible, and the Yik Yak platform went out of business in May 2017. Without the anonymity promised by the Yik Yak platform, any social media comments such as those listed are governed under Emory’s overall conduct policy.

Updated: August 2019