After School app disrupts student privacy
A new app has surfaced at Wooster High School that allows high school students to post anonymously on a forum specific to their school.
The app, After School, is only available on Apple devices and describes itself on iTunes as, “an anonymous and private message board for your school.”
The Wooster Blade Editorial Board believes the ability for high schoolers to post anonymously on social media, in this and other similar apps, presents several problems.
While posts, as of yet, are rarely malicious or derogatory, The Wooster Blade Editorial Board believes the idea of anonymously posting comments about peers can be uncomfortable and inappropriate.
The Wooster Blade Editorial Board would also like to remind students that even posts that may be intended as compliments are often not received as such. Comments that sexualize students can cause those being talked about to feel disrespected, embarrassed and threatened and can be considered the virtual equivalent of catcalling, which is not acceptable in any environment.
Similarly, Ask.fm, an app that has been popular in previous years among WHS students, resurfaces in popularity from time to time.
The Wooster Blade Editorial Board is also critical of Ask.fm, as it allows users to ask questions to others anonymously and has also resulted in bullying and inappropriate comments, as students are willing to say things online they would not consider appropriate to say in person.
After School is also similar to an app called Yik Yak, as it is also designed to allow people to post anonymously, but is commonly used by college students.
The effect this app has on college campuses is much different than in high schools. The reason for this difference is that high schools are much smaller and give students the chance to reference people by name, making the attacks more deeply personal.
Yik Yak even has a rule about not referencing people by name. People utilize initials and graduation years to protect students’ identities, and posts that use specific names are taken down.
While The Wooster Blade Editorial Board is not advocating for Yik Yak, we believe it takes better precautions to protect students’ privacy than After School does.
The strict monitoring by college administration and Yik Yak causes a greater accountability for one’s actions, which is not present on After School.
In addition to new apps, anonymous Twitter accounts have also repeatedly caused problems.
Currently, popular Twitter accounts such @waynecotwitpoll and
@WoosterPolls have become popular, taking advantage of Twitter’s new polling features to ask questions comparing students, often using terms traditionally considered derogatory.
This public comparison of students can damage their self-esteeem by allowing the public to vote on their personal characteristics.
The mask of anonymity is especially problematic. Students can see that hurtful comments are being made about them, without the ability to know who is making the statements, as users can make statements and propagate them, with little to no sense of responsibility.
This forum creates a perfect environment for bullying to take place and go unpunished.
The Wooster Blade Editorial Board urges students to remember that words communicated via the Internet hold just as much power as those said in person.
Students should have greater respect for their peers and themselves and refrain from posting things that are harmful or uncomfortable to other people.