Thursday, May 07, 2015

No Win Anonymity

YikYak strikes again, and this case should strike terror in the hearts of all institutional (K-12, higher ed or other governmentals) administrators.

The Chronicle tells us today of the case of Univ. of Mary Washington and a lawsuit against the school for not going after anonymous threats via YikYak.  Tragic circumstances here with the murder of a student.(UPDATE: A more detailed account from WaPo, with references to other university who successfully went after YikYak users.)

We've seen cases at University of Rochester where they have gone to YikYak for information, and most famously at Michigan State.  In this case, the threat of campus violence and an on-campus public safety based cyber investigative unit got real time results.

I have spoken with colleagues at other major universities regarding the chasing down of spurious rumors.  We've had calls from media where they are using YikYak as an early warning tipsheet.

This unfortunate situation was predicted by my good friend and former colleague Debby Jennings of Tennessee.  In 2005.

We're sitting in Destin, Fla., at the annual SEC meetings, and I'm discussing the future potential for social media and streaming data and audio/video on our futures.  In bringing up "the Facebook" as we all knew it then, Debby surprised me and others by saying UT was not monitoring it.  Why?  Prophetically she responded, because our lawyers advised if we do, we'll be liable and have to take action on everything that is there.

Fast forward a decade.  Now we are told we cannot monitor students, particularly student-athletes, as that is an invasion of their privacy -- even though they represent our institutions by legal statue in may states.

Frankly, like Topix before it, YikYak is a digi-bully's dream.  All the ease of social media and none of that messy responsibility.  Not knowing all of UMW's circumstances, but what are we to do?  To effectively respond will require knowing who made the accusation.  YikYak won't like that -- eventually it will break down their model because they will comply in life-safety situations.

What happens when the next YikYak goes off-shore, lets say to Iceland, where privacy trumps public safety?

What the UMW and Michigan State cases should tell you once again, in a digital landscape, there really are no secrets.  If you make dangerous, terroristic or libelous statements, the chance of you getting discovered rests less with you and more with how bad the state wants to discover.  (Remember, Facebook is now the first subpoena for many divorce cases.)

Have no answers for you today . . . just food for thought.

Friday, May 01, 2015

PGA Fights the Future

In a cut your media off to spite them move, a Sports Illustrated contributor had her PGA credentials revoked for using Periscope.

So let me see . . . . a key influencer of public opinion about your sport gets banned for using new technology.

Fans may continue.

And golf's overall demo continues to fade.  (But not on Fade, no, never, not some digital thingamajig)

Not smart.