Anonymous app enables harassment

‘After School’ app allows for explicit comments about students


This month, students found another reason to keep their eyes off of their textbooks and glued to their iPhones.

If Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram were not drawing high school drama far enough away from school grounds, After School has gladly filled the void. Now, not only do students get to talk about each other ever-so-passively on social media, they can do it anonymously.

The app allows for anonymity with emojis as stand-ins for crude language, anything from faces to produce items that represent body parts, and optional gifs to accompany comments.

Launched in late 2014, the app was temporarily taken off of the App Store from January to April due to numerous complaints from schools where it was used as a cyber bullying aid. Citations of bullying ranged from targeting individuals with insults to gun threats.

After School was put back on the tech market when it was updated with improved comment reporting, content filters, and name and profile photo options to “better express your personality in the app.”

Although the concept seems like the perfect recipe for a cyber-bullying outbreak, most comments seem to be expressions of admiration.

But even though the shade has been kept to a minimum, the student body has conducted itself in a far from saint-like manner. Blatantly sexual comments drown out friendly remarks, making the app an enabler for sexual harassment.

Having the option to attach your name to your disparaging comments and being given choices of profile pictures that include an ostrich wearing a fedora and a fox in a tuxedo have not changed the app’s nature and intention.

Students, after being verified as a part of the LHS student body via Facebook, can leave comments about their peers without their names being attached to it, making the action seem to be without consequence.

This has promoted students to post unfiltered comments about their peers on social media. Users often disregard tact and make inappropriate — and frankly gross— comments about their classmates.

Scrolling through the app, most comments are aimed to compliment someone. Although we’re glad that it isn’t being used to put other students down (for the most part), the things being said can get out of hand and enter the realm of sexual harassment.

Some comments on the app are genuinely nice. There’s the occasional “so-and-so is really funny” or “I want to be friends with…” which is fine. Strange, as these statements seem to be greater suited to be said in person, but fine.

But it all goes downhill once you get that peach emoji involved.

Making sexual comments about people is degrading, and even if they’re meant as compliments they’re most likely not met with the intended flattery but rather, the comment probably makes the recipient really uncomfortable.

And although there aren’t a lot of put-down comments — at least not as many as we would have expected — even one negative comment is too many. And there has definitely been more than one.

Ideally, it would be best if people stopped using the app altogether. But until the next big trend comes along we won’t expect our plea to convince people to log off.

Students should, if they choose to use the app at all, be considerate of what they post. Even if the consequences aren’t immediate for the commenter, they are for the people they are about. Regardless of intent, posts on After School could get out of hand quickly.

Please don’t let them.