Civil Liberties Groups Oppose Yik Yak Bans

April 8, 2016

Yik Yak logo.Several civil liberties and academic freedom organizations have sent the U.S. Education Department a letter urging it to avoid decisions or policies that would punish colleges that do not ban Yik Yak, a social media tool (logo at right) that has been used on many campuses to post anonymous, hateful messages that are racist, sexist or homophobic. Some have urged college leaders to ban Yik Yak and have called on the Education Department to encourage or require such bans.

But the letter disagrees. "Institutions of higher education have no control over what students say on social media and cannot be held legally responsible for their private speech. Moreover, because the vast majority of speech on such platforms is not even arguably discriminatory or harassing, any attempt to restrict access to social media would be overbroad, sweeping up vast amounts of protected speech," says the letter, from the National Coalition Against Censorship, the American Association of University Professors, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education and the Student Press Law Center.

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