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US University Bans Anonymous Social Apps

In a move signaling a crackdown on anonymous social apps, University of North Carolina (UNC) System President Peter Hans announced plans to block popular platforms like Yik Yak, Fizz, Whisper, and Sidechat on campus.

This decision, affecting 16 universities and one public residential high school within the UNC system, comes in response to concerns about the apps’ negative impact on student well-being.

Hans emphasized the apps’ disregard for addressing issues like bullying, harassment, racial insults, and drug dealing.

These apps, which often operate within a small radius of college campuses, have been a playground for inappropriate behaviour, reminiscent of the “cruel rumors on the bathroom wall” but with a wider audience, as Hans puts it.

Despite their appeal to younger users, they have consistently struggled to address toxicity on their platforms, leading to various consequences such as app store bans and legal action.

The history of anonymous social apps is fraught with controversy and short-lived success. Despite repeated attempts, these platforms can often struggle to maintain sustainable businesses due to their propensity for hosting toxic content and facing regulatory challenges.

UNC’s move to ban these apps could signal the beginning of the end for this current wave of anonymous social platforms.

Despite still being accessible outside of the university’s network, the ban aims to discourage students from engaging with these platforms and the risky behaviors they encourage.

Inspired by NYU social psychologist Jonathan Haidt’s insights, Hans sees this as a pivotal moment to reconsider our relationship with technology and online communities. He also hopes the ban will prompt reflection on healthier online interactions among students.

With concerns about privacy, safety, and well-being at the forefront, the UNC System’s stance underscores the need for responsible usage of social technology within educational environments.

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