New paper: The Social Value of Anonymity on Campus

Posted on Mar 15, 2019 in news


The new paper from our project on Yik Yak and the social value of anonymity is now out in Learning, Media and Technology.

We used the failure of this anonymous social media app to look at the value of anonymity among student communities. We pushed back on the knee jerk media tendency to align anonymity with hate speech and victimisation, to argue that there is real value for communities in having spaces of ephemerality and (quoting Helen Nissenbaum) ‘unreachability’, where different kinds of networks can grow. The individuation and data-targeting ethos of the data-age has normalised our lack of unreachability, and that matters. We argue that universities need to open up new discussions around how we can actively enable productive anonymity by recognising its social value.

The paper is here – it’s open access:

Bayne, S., Connelly, L., Grover, C., Osborne, N., Tobin, R., Beswick, E., Rouhani, L. (2019) The social value of anonymity on campus: a study of the decline of Yik Yak. Learning, Media and Technology. 10.1080/17439884.2019.1583672