Bullying and Anonymity

The New York Times recently published a story about a teacher at Eastern Michigan University who discovered insulting messages about her on social media. Margaret Crouch discovered that during one of her classes, students were having conversations about her on a popular social messaging app. She made efforts to determine who made the comments about her, but she was unable to find answers:

“In the end, nothing much came of Ms. Crouch’s efforts, for a simple reason: Yik Yak is anonymous. There was no way for the school to know who was responsible for the posts.”

Source: http://nyti.ms/18sCG67

At VoiceThread we understand the problems associated with anonymous comments, which is why we don’t allow them. When students know that they will be held accountable for comments they make, they tend to make better choices.

K-12 educators in the Ed.VoiceThread community can share content and interact with students in a safe, private space but they can also hold students accountable for abusive or inappropriate commenting. Here is a quick overview about Ed.VoiceThread:

Our Higher Education communities can also hold their students accountable for comments they make on a VoiceThread. Teachers will know who made comments and also when they made them. Inappropriate comments can be hidden from view of their classmates through comment moderation and corrective action can be taken. You can learn more about comment moderation here:


We believe that students should have a voice but we also believe that students should know that they are responsible for comments they make. This gives educators the ability to create rich, yet safe, learning environments for their students. We’d like to know what you think, so let us know in the comment section below!

One response to “Bullying and Anonymity

  1. I agree that comments in educational settings should not be anonymous. Students need to own what they say. Obviously, it is a great aid in uncovering bullies, but it is also necessary for simple social responsibility.

    Many of my students are now realizing that they leave an online footprint. Companies can find a prospective employee and read what he or she has written on social media. It really isn’t that hard, even with multiple user names. While our first amendment rights may guarantee us free speech, that doesn’t mean there aren’t consequences to saying things that may provoke a strong emotional response.

    I also agree that we as educators must create safety, both online and in our classrooms. With tools like Voicethread, we can allow for transparency. I also do this with Vimeo videos in which I ask the students to write comments, and I program it so no anonymous comments will be registered. Rarely have I ever had any difficulty with students going too far with comments.

    In this media age where there is so little privacy, it falls to the individual to make good choices. As educators, we can help our students understand the reasoning behind those choices.

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