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NUS National Conference: Yik Yak To Be 'Banned' Under Safe Social Elections Policy

'Poor Yak game.'

20/04/2016 08:53 | Updated 20 April 2016
ASSOCIATED PRESS
Yik Yak is an anonymous gossip app popular with university students, but not, it now seems, the NUS

The National Union of Students has voted to heavily restrict anonymous messages on apps such as Yik Yak.

Supporters of the decision, made on Tuesday at the union's annual conference, say it is part of an effort to ensure social media is "safe" during campus elections.

Yet those opposed to the move say the NUS is moving beyond its powers and is infringing on freedom of speech.

Yik Yak
Brighton's Yakkers responded to the NUS decision

The 'Safe Social Elections' motion passed last night, on the first day of the annual event in Brighton, Sussex.

The conference hosts around 800 elected student delegates who vote on motions proposing new policies. 

The Safe Social Elections motion said that while social media "does more good than harm" during student elections, the ability for people to set up anonymous accounts meant "racists, sexists, and cyber bullies" were avoiding punishment.

"Anonymous accounts have the ability to shield racists, sexists, and cyber bullies from campus disciplinary procedures," the motion read.

NUS UK
An NUS delegate signals his support for proceedings during the conference on Tuesday

The NUS will now engage with Yik Yak, as well as Facebook and Twitter to look at ways of preventing anonymous messaging during campus elections.

Yik Yak is one of a number of apps which use specific geo-locations to enable its users to comment on message boards anonymously.

The American firm has launched its service on university campuses across the UK in recent years.

NUS
Motion 303: Safe Social Elections as debated during Tuesday's session of the NUS national conference

Other apps, including Telegram and even Twitter, allow users to be anonymous while posting.

Speaking on Wednesday, the union's vice-president for welfare Shelly Asquith told the conference that some student unions had already banned Yik Yak from their WiFi, while others employed monitors to "down vote" negative comments.

Those in favour of the decision highlighted the difference between free speech and hate speech.

While critics argued the NUS is "censorship-happy".

Yik Yak has yet to respond to The Huffington Post UK's request for comment.

Meanwhile, Brighton's Yakkers seemed thoroughly unimpressed with the development.

 

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