Sunday 11 December 2016

University 'found no evidence' of revenge porn Facebook group

Published 13/02/2016 | 12:57

'A spokesman for UCD said the investigation had found
'A spokesman for UCD said the investigation had found "no evidence" of the claims made anonymously online

University College Dublin (UCD) has released a statement stating that a concluded investigation found "no evidence" to support claims reported by one of the college's student papers.

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The College Tribune reported that allegations had been made in the anonymous messaging app 'Yik Yak'. The allegation stated that nude photographs of UCD female students were being shared in a private Facebook group of up to 200 male UCD students of Agricultural Science.

The "nude photos", reportedly of women the male students had slept with, were then rated by members of the group, according to the allegation reported by the paper. #UCD200 trended on Twitter after the story broke, and it was covered in national media around the country.

Following an investigation, UCD have released a statement stating that the college found "no evidence" that the group existed.

UCD investigates reports of 'revenge porn' group on campus  

Professor Mark Rodgers, the UCD Deputy President and Registrar, circulated an email to all students which said that "the investigation found no evidence of the existence of such a group where UCD students were posting nude photographs of students and then rating them".

Rodgers revealed that the investigation had not been able to find one student with "first hand sighting" of the photos, despite a number of anonymous claims made on the Yik Yak app.

The statement said the "investigation sought... information on a confidential basis from students of the School of Agriculture and Food Science" along with seeking information from the UCD's 27,000 students "through social media".

"The investigation also interviewed 28 individuals and went through a large amount of online and other documentation".

"Although this investigation is concluded, I am not so naive as to believe that the university community is immune to this type of activity".

"If you have been affected by the inappropriate sharing of private information on social media, the student advisors and wider University support services are available to you".

Rodgers "expressed disappointment" that the University newspaper had not passed information on to the college when they became aware of the allegations at the end of December.

The story was broken by the UCD College Tribune by Politics and Innovation Editor Jack Power, in a story which discussed "the continued prevalence of a harmful and derogatory 'lad culture' among the student body in UCD".

UCD Students' Union to introduce ‘mandatory’ sexual consent classes  

Anonymous posters on Yik Yak both denied and confirmed the existence of the group. One user, claiming to be a member, wrote "we're not all the same... most of the guys on the group don't even partake... I personally have only sent 3 photos and a story or two".

Another wrote "we are not all sickos like those lads.... how unfair is it to say a CAO choice somehow defines you like that".

A student wishing only to be known as Sarah told the College Tribune that "what's even worse about the whole thing is how people are more concerned... about saving their own reputations above the girls that were humiliated and shamed".

"People just brush it off as 'lads being lads'... these are legal adults who should be held accountable for their bad behaviour just like everyone else".

'I would just feel uneasy alone on campus at night'  

Speaking to Independent.ie, Student Union President Marcus said that "while this proves (this particular) group was not in existence... we can't be naive to think (these kinds of groups) don't exist... we would like to remind people that if they come across anything like this to report it".

The discussion on the issue is continuing on Yik Yak today, with contradictory claims being made regarding the existence of the alleged group.

A number of allegations made overnight have been confirmed by the Student's Union as "false" and factually incorrect.

O'Halloran told Independent.ie that "the power of Yik Yak is totally unforeseen.... people making these unfounded, anonymous claims".

"Everybody is throwing sticks at the moments and nobody realises that (the Student’s Union) is really making strides, and actually doing a lot of work to combat this".

UCD Student's Union are currently seeking funding to implement "mandatory" sexual consent classes for students of the University.

UCD Students' Union to introduce ‘mandatory’ sexual consent classes

Yik Yak is a location-based app in which users can create anonymous posts without an account.

Below is a podcast from Gimlet Media, from the weekly show 'Reply All', in which they investigate the use of Yik Yak to spread racist messages atUS colleges like Colgate University, University of Missouri, Yale, and Georgetown.

 

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