Punish students for what they say online

A coalition of advocacy groups in the United States has urged educational powers to be more proactive in addressing what college students say online.

The group wants to see universities punish students for their online comments, and block websites which allow anonymous comments.

The social media platform Yik Yak was targeted, as it is widely used and is associated with the threatening and harassing of students.

“If harassment has occurred, doing nothing is always the wrong response,” the group said, providing examples of what actions might be appropriate:

  • Investigating reports of online harassment, whether or not perpetrators are “anonymous”.
  • Initiating campus disciplinary proceedings against individuals engaging in online harassment.
  • Geofencing of anonymous social media applications that are used to threaten, intimidate, or harass students.
  • Barring the use of campus Wi-Fi to view or post to these applications.
  • Prompt reporting of anonymous online threats of physical and sexual violence to police and the social media application.
  • Monitoring social media applications to ensure immediate response to online harassment and intimidation.
  • Providing counseling and appropriate accommodations for targets of online harassment and intimidation and others affected by it.
  • Conducting mandatory training or intervention programmes for students, faculty, and staff on the use of these social media applications to engage in harassment and intimidation.

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Punish students for what they say online