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Mum’s concerns over ‘bullying’ on social app

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By Fiona Reid
Mum’s concerns over ‘bullying’ on social app

AN anonymous social networking site has become a ‘playground for bullies’ in Lockerbie.

Yik Yak an app and web page which allows users to ‘share thoughts and keep privacy’ lets users tap into a feed local to them and post anonymous comments.

The vision behind Yik Yak was to ‘make the world feel small again by giving a feed of all the casual, relatable, heartfelt and silly things people are saying around you’ however in Lockerbie the feed has turned into a hub for bullying.

Local mum, Kirsty Green, whose daughters were mentioned by name by the site’s anomonyous users, wants to see the site disbanded.

She said: “I first heard of the site when my daughter informed me that people were saying horrible things about her and her older sister on it.

“It’s a site which is local and lets everyone who posts on it remain anonymous, it’s a playground for bullies.”

Kirsty was upset when both her 16-year-old and 21-year-old daughters were mentioned by name on the app.

The mum said: “Both my girls were deeply upset and saddened that local people would post such vile stuff and that others would join in with their horrid, hurtful comments.”

Kirsty tried to contact police about the site and Yik Yak directly but said both were disappointingly unhelpful.

She said: “I informed the police who basically said contact Yik Yak directly.

“I found this to be very difficult as I did not wish to download the app as I found the whole site extremely offensive.”

She then contacted Yik Yak but was unable to provide them with enough information for them to act on.

Calling for the site to be banned, she said: “It’s horrific and extremely disturbing to read what people say about others.

“This site will have a serious effect on some people and could cause serious harm.

“ I really do hope that the police take this seriously.”

Meanwhile Lockerbie Academy head teacher Brian Asher has also raised concerns.

He said: “I have yet to see an example of it being used positively, but perhaps it has been and I just don’t know about it.

“My concerns are that it is being widely used to anonymously post hurtful and unpleasant comments about other people without the safeguards that other apps and websites have to flag concerns and report abuse – I am aware of reports where it has been difficult to get Yik Yak to listen and respond to such concerns.”

Mr Asher also raised concerns that the app is certificate as 17+ in the app store.

He added: “I would urge parents to check that their children are not using apps that are not age-appropriate.

“It seems difficult if not impossible to police unless we can try and avoid using it entirely.

“We have had a number of issues to deal with where distress has been caused to pupils and parents.

“We will definitely be talking to pupils about this in assemblies and classes to continue to advise appropriate use of this and other social media to minimise further problems if we possibly can.”

Ian Brownrigg of Lockerbie Police Station added: “It is a criminal offence to post or send offensive or indecent images.

“If you do not have anything nice to say about someone or something then don’t say anything at all.”