After School, a smartphone app used by high schoolers to post their thoughts and ideas anonymously and broadcast them to others at school, has been pulled from the Apple Itunes store for the second time since its November launch, according to the Macomb Daily News.
After School was cited for violating the “personal attacks” and “objectionable content” categories of Apple’s App Store Guidelines, according to Re/code.
The App was the center of controversy this week after it was used to make anonymous threats of violence at Brandon High School, in Clarkston, Michigan last week. A series of anonymous postings threatened to carry out an attack against students. “Tomorrow I’m gonna shoot and kill every last one of you and its going to be bigger than Columbine just wait,” one of the postings read. In total, 17 threats were made, posting images of heavily armed men on the network. Spooked parents kept their children home from school the next day as authorities worked to hunt the culprit down.
As with many “anonymous” apps and forums, messages can be posted “anonymously” on the app — but users divulge their Facebook account information to the publisher. Police were able to track down the sender of the messages by Facebook account addresses that were needed to access the app and trace them to a 17-year-old student. But first, they ran into barriers — including finding the developer’s contact information to serve a search warrant from the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Jacob Michael Young, a senior, was traced as the source of the threats. His attorney says he may be dealing with some “emotional problems” and viewed his action as activism against a spate of bullying that was occurring on the app. He is being charged with making terroristic threats.
His attorney, Deanna Kelley, said that trying to make a statement about the app and raise awareness that it’s being used for online, anonymous bullying.
“He was upset about bullying on the app and nobody was doing anything about it. This was his explanation to police and it went horribly wrong.”
“This is a 17-year-old kid,” she said. “These apps are so dangerous. Kids aren’t thinking about who reads what they write and how they respond to it.”
After a spate of similar incidents, Apple had the app removed from the App Store on Dec. 4 “so the developers could make changes to make it safer for students and it went back online later that day.” School administrators in Lubbock, Texas even sent home a memo warning parents about the dangers of the app. Recently, in Richmond, Ohio, a similar anonymous-sharing app was used to make threats, forcing the school to go into lockdown mode and causing administrators to search over 700 students.
I don’t fault the developer for creating the app, but now that they are aware of how these kind of things are abused and misused, it needs to be completely revamped. Nothing on the internet is really anonymous, but people always seem to feel emboldened by the idea that it is.
Something good did come of this. They ferreted out this unstable kid before he acted on any of his impulses. Something else may have set him off just as easily. I can see how bullying can lead to this kind of breakdown and apparently having these kind of apps available just feeds the monster.
This is why we can’t have nice things.
I don’t either, just about any app like this can be used for something bad. Even the ones we have now end up on the bad side sometimes. It is like blaming the gun for the act of the person holding it. Stop placing blame on the wrong things people, wise up!
Exactly, some stupid person sends a threatening text message . . . let’s blame the SMS infrastructure and the carrier and the phone manufacturer. People are responsible for their actions, NOT the tools they use to do it.
It is too bad that we now live in a world were almost 80% of people don’t take responsibility for their own actions. Yes bullying is a bad thing but you can’t blame the tool used by the person, that makes no sense.
What good did they think was going to become of an app like this? The first thing that went wrong is to create an app that would allow the student to post anonymously. If these kids knew that they were going to be held accountable for what they were posting, then this app might have worked a little better. They definitely need to rethink this one.
I couldn’t agree more. There is just way too much bullying these days. Of course some students would use this app to post mean things about other students. It’s all anonymous, they probably figure they wouldn’t get into trouble. I’m glad that Apple has pulled the app from the stores.
Every app can be misused. I don’t believe this is the fault or responsibility of the developer, nor of Apple. Obviously, those who misuse the app can be tracked down and charged, so why should the developer have to revamp it?
Why? Because why help kids bully other kids? Kids hide behind the computer screen already, why let them do it anonymously? I do think that it was a really dumb app to begin with. I really hope that Apple can revamp it or just get rid of it all together.
Nothing is anonymous, not even your post here. Everyone seems to think it is but everyone is wrong on this too. The kid needs help and hopefully he gets it, but the app is not the one to blame here.
MySpace (is that still alive?)
Wordpress (for blogs, if he owned the domain easier to track down)
The list really goes on and on. He could have said this on any of the other social websites out there, he choose this one himself and he assumed like many do that it would be anonymous.