A 21-year-old Virginia Tech senior named Kiung Moon found himself on the wrong side of the law, as he was arrested by police following an anonymous threat posted on Yik Yak, reports the Collegiate Times, Virginia Tech’s student-run newspaper.
Last Wednesday, the Virginia Tech Police Department was alerted to a message posted on the anonymous social network, which stated, “Another 4.16 moment is going to happen tomorrow. Just a warning (sic).” The message referred to the Virginia Tech shooting on April 16, 2007 that claimed the lives of 33 people, including the perpetrator, Seung-Hui Cho.
An investigation was then launched in conjunction with the Blacksburg Police Department. Even though several active leads were pursued, Moon eventually turned himself in later that day. He is being charged with Harassment by Computer, a class one misdemeanor that could carry either a maximum of 12 months in jail, up to a $2,500 fine, or both.
Yik Yak allows college students to post anonymous messages, up to 200 characters in length. Even though the messages are anonymous, Yik Yak does maintain a log of certain information, such as IP addresses, GPS coordinates, and the time and date of posted messages. According to the social network’s legal page, Yik Yak will disclose user account information to law enforcement without the need for a subpoena, court order, or warrant if it believes the situation is a “valid emergency.”
The authorities’ response to the threat isn’t surprising, given how there have been over 100 school shooting incidences since the beginning of 2010. School shooting threats also contributed to the original takedown of After School, an app that allows students to anonymously post messages. The main difference between that app and Yik Yak is that you don’t have to be a college student to post a message.