Yuk yak.

Before we start, a few arty shots by the professional who photographed the show Friday night. The first one is helpfully annotated:


And this one has some fancy Photoshop filters, but I don’t know what they are. J.C. probably does.


That’s Kate with her hair all over her face. Nice pix, Brian Rozman Photography.

And so, we move on.

I think one of the things that drives me insane about the way my industry has been destroyed is the way it’s changed the public’s view of what constitutes publication. People my age came up in the newspaper business after the time of the big press moguls; the chains were ascendant, but the old principles were still in place. Publishing was a sacred trust, with ethics and responsibilities, and while this was a spectacularly flawed group of people trying to carry them out, we made a stab at it.

A few weeks ago I mentioned my troll, about how trying to get some of the shit he wrote about me taken down was a futile exercise, because no one seemed to be in control of a huge platform used all over the world to publish stuff.

But that, it turns out, is like talking to Watergate-era Ben Bradlee compared to trying to get some accountability out of today’s young tech millionaires. A front-page NYT story on Yik Yak today made my blood run cold, then a little hot with rage, although why bother? Why get upset? Nothing seems to bother them:

Like Facebook or Twitter, Yik Yak is a social media network, only without user profiles. It does not sort messages according to friends or followers but by geographic location or, in many cases, by university. Only posts within a 1.5-mile radius appear, making Yik Yak well suited to college campuses. Think of it as a virtual community bulletin board — or maybe a virtual bathroom wall at the student union. It has become the go-to social feed for college students across the country to commiserate about finals, to find a party or to crack a joke about a rival school.

Much of the chatter is harmless. Some of it is not.

“Yik Yak is the Wild West of anonymous social apps,” said Danielle Keats Citron, a law professor at University of Maryland and the author of “Hate Crimes in Cyberspace.” “It is being increasingly used by young people in a really intimidating and destructive way.”

Colleges are largely powerless to deal with the havoc Yik Yak is wreaking. The app’s privacy policy prevents schools from identifying users without a subpoena, court order or search warrant, or an emergency request from a law-enforcement official with a compelling claim of imminent harm.

Yes, that’s Yik Yak — an anonymous, micro-local slam book. A slam book that feeds on itself and fuels itself, and would it surprise you to learn it was founded by two frat boys, who zealously defend its anonymity and think the answer to hate speech, etc., is for individual posts to be “uprooted” or “downvoted.” God, I hate this bullshit:

ALEX GOLDMAN: Colgate University is a tiny private liberal arts school – just 3,000 students, way up in the mountains in Hamilton New York. It’s the most beautiful college campus in America, according to the Princeton Review, located in the 11th friendliest town in America, according to Forbes. But not according to Melissa Melendez, who is a student at Colgate.

MELISSA MELENDEZ: one of the first things I saw about me, was “bash that bitch’s head in.”

ALEX: Melissa saw that comment — and much worse — on an anonymous social media app called Yik Yak. Yik Yak lets you see posts or “yaks” as they’re called from users within a 10-mile radius. So it’s no surprise that it’s really popular at college campuses. People can post anonymously on yik yak about lame frat parties, or hot RAs or boring classes. But at Colgate last semester, the site also became a screen onto which the student body’s ugliest, most bigoted and violent thoughts were projected, for everyone to see. And Melissa Melendez and her friends were target of those thoughts.

That’s from a podcast transcript on the same subject. And here’s an Atlanta magazine story, ditto. The founders of Yik Yak – whose names are, I’m not kidding, Tyler Droll and Brooks Buffington, sound like two of the most entitled, miserable little brats in western civilization, and I hope someone sues them back to the stone age. People too stupid to understand that a totally anonymous communications platform might be used for racism, threats and hatred? They belong there.

All of which put me in a wonderful mood to read this Conor Friedersdorf explication of the Ferguson report. I haven’t read the source material yet, mainly because just the excerpts are enough to make the top of your head blow off:

We spoke… with an African-American woman who has a still-pending case stemming from 2007, when, on a single occasion, she parked her car illegally. She received two citations and a $151 fine, plus fees. The woman, who experienced financial difficulties and periods of homelessness over several years, was charged with seven Failure to Appear offenses for missing court dates or fine payments on her parking tickets between 2007 and 2010. For each Failure to Appear, the court issued an arrest warrant and imposed new fines and fees.

From 2007 to 2014, the woman was arrested twice, spent six days in jail, and paid $550 to the court for the events stemming from this single instance of illegal parking. Court records show that she twice attempted to make partial payments of $25 and $50, but the court returned those payments, refusing to accept anything less than payment in full. One of those payments was later accepted, but only after the court’s letter rejecting payment by money order was returned as undeliverable. This woman is now making regular payments on the fine. As of December 2014, over seven years later, despite initially owing a $151 fine and having already paid $550, she still owed $541.

And that’s only the cash-chiseling part of the police department. There was also this stuff:

… in August 2010, a lieutenant used an ECW in drive-stun mode against an African-American woman in the Ferguson City Jail because she had refused to remove her bracelets. The lieutenant resorted to his ECW even though there were five officers present and the woman posed no physical threat.

This is simply too much outrage for a Monday. So let’s try again tomorrow.

Posted at 12:30 am in Current events |

27 responses to “Yuk yak.”

  1. MarkH said on March 10, 2015 at 1:55 am

    I hope the Vipers stick with it. I predict mega-cult status, if not some level of stardom.

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  2. Sherri said on March 10, 2015 at 2:44 am

    It’s very clear to me that police officers have been locking up, beating up, and generally harassing the wrong sort of people. Instead of attacking young black men, our protectors and defenders should instead be “knocking some sense into” and “teaching some respect to” our nation’s entitled over-privileged young white males, from the stupid Yik Yakkers to the vile young men of SAE at Oklahoma. If stop and frisk was such a good idea, maybe we should be stopping frat boys and checking their iPhones…

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  3. Suzanne said on March 10, 2015 at 8:15 am

    I don’t know if obnoxious frat type boys have gotten worse since my college days, but social media has allowed us to see not only how obnoxious they are, but how many people think it’s fine to be so. Ditto the extreme “Git me a gun and a flag and let me defend ‘Murica against all these SOBs that are a-comin’ in and takin’ over” types. I’m not shocked that they are there; I’m shocked when someone I think is a reasonably intelligent person posts some outrageous bit of ridiculousness and 30 people agree with angry rants about the president’s religion, or that Oklahoma U’s administration is overreacting.

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  4. beb said on March 10, 2015 at 8:17 am

    I’ve read where the Missouri district court will take over cases from Ferguson, which is a step. A bigger step would be to not allow court fines be used for municipal revenue.

    Yik Yak reminds me very little of Yelp, the social site where people can write in reviews of restaurants, contractors, salesmen, etc. There’s already a side market in companies offering to flood Yelp with positive reviews of your business, and lawsuits over Yelp reviews, or people being banished because they wrote a negative review. While in its ideal form Yelp seemed like a good idea in practicality Yelp is just another fever swamp of fear and loathing.

    The problem is that we don’t need better social media, we need better people.

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  5. basset said on March 10, 2015 at 8:41 am

    Good pics indeed. Will the band continue after Kate goes off to Ann Arbor?

    I liked the frat boy stop and frisk idea from yesterday… “empty out your pockets, bro, if you’re not doin’ anything wrong you got nothin’ to worry about.” Don’t think I coulda gotten through college if we’d had social media and the internet back then, between the distractions and the anonymous comments… took me seven years to graduate from a four-year school anyway.

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  6. Dave Jacque said on March 10, 2015 at 8:44 am

    These extortionate activities are due to political cowardice about the need to raise taxes to provide desired services — and the unrealistic expectations of taxpayers for an endless supply of services at no additional cost. This forces the local police departments into the role of shadow tax collection agency, since it’s the only source of new revenue.

    I wonder how drastically policing would change if parking and arrest fines went to a national fund for educating the underprivileged and housing the homeless instead of into the local municipality’s coffers.

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  7. Jolene said on March 10, 2015 at 8:44 am

    ” . . . we need better people.”

    Amen, beb, amen.

    Last night, on Twitter, an LATimes reporter posted links from several people, each of whom said that the specific ditty the fellas from OU were singing had been sung at their school in years past.

    I dunno, I don’t particularly think I have led a sheltered life, but I somehow managed to make it through both college, including several years of dorm life, and graduate school without ever being at a party where people sang racist songs.

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  8. Jolene said on March 10, 2015 at 8:54 am

    Here is somebody telling us that the destruction of historical artifacts taking place in the Middle East would have been recognized as a standard part of warfare by the people who built those artifacts. Kind of emphasizes the idea that our hopes for better people are unlikely to be fulfilled.

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  9. Deborah said on March 10, 2015 at 9:21 am

    I have been against fraternities and sororities my entire life. Ever since I first heard there was such a concept that promoted such exclusivity I was shocked. The whole Yik Yak thing was destined to become exactly what it seems to be now. There is a tremendous lack of empathy in the people of the world today. What happened? Has it always been like this?

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  10. coozledad said on March 10, 2015 at 9:46 am

    The frat system is the US is designed to produce the kind of aristocracy of dreck we tried to throw off in the Revolution. The kind of people who caned each other bloody at Eaton and Harrow.

    The kind of people who brought nukes to the Falklands war.

    The kind of people who need a civics lesson from a foreign government who understand the US Constitution better than 47 legislative shitmuffins:

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  11. Bitter Scribe said on March 10, 2015 at 10:58 am

    What kills me about the Ferguson situation is that the “municipal court judge” who oversees this whole shakedown himself owes tens of thousands of dollars in back taxes.

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  12. coozledad said on March 10, 2015 at 11:05 am

    Bitter Scribe: Maybe he can make it back by taking on this sweet old thang as a client:
    This is the kind of shit you can see at any Republican gathering, really. Especially if they’ve been pounding jello shots while they’re cooking the pig.

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  13. Walter Biggins said on March 10, 2015 at 11:22 am

    Re: Yik Yak: Why does it not surprise me that a hugely insensitive, remarkably careless social media platform would be created by two former Kappa Alphas? Not just any fraternity, but the Robert E. Lee-lovin’ one… *sigh*

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  14. alex said on March 10, 2015 at 12:08 pm

    Pay to play in Peoria? Why I’m schocked, schocked I tell you.

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  15. Snarkworth said on March 10, 2015 at 12:17 pm

    I see lots of hand-wringing about the unhealthy influence of fraternities and sororities, but little mention of the fact that lots of college don’t allow them. You don’t have to have a Greek-infused college experience if you don’t want one.

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  16. coozledad said on March 10, 2015 at 1:25 pm

    This country is overcome with a sickness. It’s thoroughly brutalized.

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  17. Deborah said on March 10, 2015 at 4:05 pm

    Unarmed and naked, how will the right wing spin that to their advantage? Wait for it, it will come.

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  18. LAMary said on March 10, 2015 at 4:25 pm

    I’m stuck on the yik yak founders’ names.

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  19. brian stouder said on March 10, 2015 at 4:40 pm

    Word, Mary.

    Y’know – if we’re condemned to repeat and re-enact all the ancient cruelties and ignorance that we always have, then what the hell!

    I’ll volunteer to be one of the angry mob that storms the HQ of Tyler Droll and Brooks Buffington(or their parents’ basement?), and heave their internet machine into the nearest river

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  20. beb said on March 10, 2015 at 4:43 pm

    #16, Gawker continues, the officer had access to a taser and pepper spray. But choice to use his handgun instead.

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  21. Judybusy said on March 10, 2015 at 4:44 pm

    Oh, that killing is just heartbreaking. That cop had a baton and taser at his disposal. Yes, the victim sounds as if he were pretty disorganized and psychotic, but all the more reason NOT TO SHOOT HIM. He wasn’t rationale. This is as much about mental illness as it is about race.

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  22. Jolene said on March 10, 2015 at 5:09 pm

    As we’ve heard, there are no comprehensive national data on police shootings, but, back when the Michael Brown/Eric Garner cases were hot, a WSJ reporter gathered as much data as he could, combining official reports and news accounts. One of his main findings was that the victims were frequently people with mental disorders. They simply aren’t able to understand or respond to commands from police, especially not when the police are shouting and demanding quick responses. These recent cases, Tamir Rice especially, illustrate how quickly these events unfold.

    Seems to me that this is an issue that better police training could help to address.

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  23. David C. said on March 10, 2015 at 6:19 pm

    I wonder how common steroid use is with police. That would explain their over-reactions. My brother-in-law is a retired officer and he went from normal sized to bulked up in just about no time and was quite angry. Now that he’s retired he’s back to normal size and he’s abnormally patient with his grand kids.

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  24. Sherri said on March 10, 2015 at 6:45 pm

    I suspect it’s pretty common, David C., especially among tactical teams. This story has kind of flown under the radar out here, but there’s strong suspicion that Holiwell was selling steroids to other LEOs. The King County Sheriff’s Department is a mess; it’s just been overshadowed by the Seattle PD’s mess. Seattle PD is currently under a DOJ consent decree, and a new chief appears to be trying to clean things up. The mayor and city council are supportive of the changes, though a segment of the rank and file aren’t, of course.

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  25. David C. said on March 10, 2015 at 8:04 pm

    I just got a look at the photos of The Deadly Vipers. Is it the color in the first one that makes it look (to me) like they are all in Mao suits? Especially the guy in the cap in the middle. Either my colorblindness or the bar was taken over by the Chinese conspiracy.

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  26. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on March 10, 2015 at 9:05 pm

    So, of mild interest to denizens of this space, I wanted to report (if I can still use that word) that I no longer have an editor at our Gannett paper. The email arrived that I’ve gotten probably a dozen times over the last 16 years, that I should send my column and other occasional pieces no longer to that person, because they’ve moved up/are moving away/are leaving the biz, and telling me who the new local news editor is going to be at the end of the month.

    Well, I don’t have a new editor. Because we have content coaches now. And my most recent editor is becoming a group content coach (as they continue to share positions across multiple papers across the region all owned by Gannett), for which I am happy as a) he still has a job and b) it’s a promotion. And I’m happy for the young reporter (?) with whom I’ve worked on a number of pieces since she came on board, and who richly deserves a step, but she is not going to be my editor. She will be my coach.

    My last coach and I did not have a good relationship, but that was 9th grade. So maybe I can rethink this. Her responsibilities sound remarkably like being an editor, except for all the content management across platforms and brand development initiatives.

    As I say in my other job, Lord, have mercy.

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  27. alex said on March 10, 2015 at 10:37 pm

    You have my sympathies, JTMMO. I bailed on the corporate game somewhere between TQM and Six Sigma and haven’t regretted it. The benefit of working for a relatively small business is that we’re much too busy for that shit.

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