By Benjamin Leatham
I am currently in Brighton for the NUS National Conference. In case you don’t know, conference is where we are debating, discussing and voting on NUS policy for the next year. A motion called Safe Social Elections passed that looks to tackle the level of harassment on social media during Students' Union elections. In response there has been a lot of discussion in York around censorship and the shutting down of Yik Yak. I want to clear up any and all uncertainty regarding the motion.
The motion is NOT in favour of banning Yik Yak. Censorship of this kind is absolutely not something I would endorse. What the motion actually resolved was:
'That the NUS open a dialog with Facebook, Twitter, and Yik Yak to introduce restrictions on 'anonymous' or troll accounts during election periods.'
Now I agree that this is vague and unclear. Motions are often like this to facilitate discussion and allow for a more detailed strategy to be drawn up afterward. The discussion on conference floor centred around reinforcing harassment policy and ensuring that during election periods harassing posts do NOT slip through the net, as happened at York.
Currently in the Yik Yak terms of service it states:
"When using the Services, you agree not to:
Defame, abuse, bully, harass, stalk, threaten, or otherwise violate the legal rights of others."
This happened during the YUSU elections. People were targeted. It was out and out harassment and it was not acceptable. Yik Yak and other social media platforms MUST abide by their own rules and ensure that the brave people who put themselves forward for election can do so with the knowledge that they will not face harassment of any kind, on any platform.
That is why I voted in favour of this motion.
If you're interested in reading the full motion it is 303 and can be found HERE