Posted by: lindseychristine | December 1, 2009

Gossip Gone Too Far?

When exiting our high school graduations in our caps and gowns we certainly left many aspects of our young adult lives behind, such as high school football games, proms, and the gossip carved and written on bathroom walls. Writing comments on bathroom walls may be a thing of the past, but immature, vicious gossip is certainly present and on the rise on college campuses nationwide. The bathroom wall nonsense is now plastered on online gossip sites for all eyes to see.

Adding fuel to the college gossip fire has certainly been kicked up more than a couple of notches these days. College students from schools across the country are publicly posting anonymous personal attacks about individuals (where first and last names are often included) on online gossip sites such as CollegeACB.com, College Anonymous Confession Board. Gossip websites where students choose to rant and vent about people and issues have been categorized as an “electronic bathroom wall” by Beverly Low, the dean of first-year students at Colgate University, which was published in a Time Magazine report at the start of November.

In just seconds students can access their school’s own personal giant gossip message board after choosing their college or university on the home page. Students have the option to browse or post comments on categories which include advice, sex, issues, and academics. Time Magazine reported that such posts are often filled with distasteful racist, sexist, and homophobic remarks.

Glancing at my own university’s “wall,” posts ranged from titles such as “Sororities and their current reputations…post away!”, “Easiest girls to take home, please name away,” “Ugly new freshman whores you have to watch out for.” This gossip driven phenomenon appears to have been trigged by Juicy Campus, a former popular college gossip site. This college gossip central website shut down in February after losing advertisers and an investigation on violation of consumer-protection laws began by two state attorneys, according to Time.

The founder of CollegeACB, Peter Frank, a Wesleyan sophomore, runs the website right out of his dorm room in Connecticut. The elimination of Juicy Campus sparked much desire to strengthen the traffic of CollegeACB for Frank. “He contacted Juicy Campus’ founder Matt Ivester, who personally emailed him and agreed upon a five-figure deal to have all of Juicy Campus’ traffic redirected to CollegeACB. CollegeACB’s traffic increased from 60,000 hits a day to half a million overnight,” according to a report in The Wesleyan Argus in February. The report revealed that there are currently 500 colleges and universities represented on the site.

“Although the ACB can devolve into cruel gossip, Frank believes it serves as a sounding board for students and a unique opportunity for people to open up and have provocative and meaningful dialogue,” The Wesleyan Argus reported.

It is not surprising for Frank to receive 40 requests from individuals asking to remove insulting and harmful posts, according to Time. It was also reported that the site does not have anyone moderating or policing the content posted. Frank said that he will take down a post that included an individual’s name per requested. He has also received hundreds of requests from college officials to remove material and even to remove their college from the site permanently.

Students should have an outlet to share their thoughts with others in regards to their own particular college campus life. College students enjoy online interaction with friends and peers with the use of social media websites such as Facebook and Twitter. These websites have proven that it’s certainly beneficial for students to have an opportunity to share what’s on their minds with others. However, posting anonymous nasty comments about particular individuals is incredibly childish and cowardly. There’s a big difference between a place to vent maturely and a place to just post trash about others.

Although other non-controversial college related content is posted, let’s face it people are typically not visiting CollegeACB to find out the best pizza place on campus. Certainly some of the material is not overly negative and was intentionally posted for amusement. When it comes down to it, college students must be conscious about drawing the line between what is considered funny and what can be significantly damaging to one’s reputation and well being.

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Responses

  1. Wow, very eye opening remarks. I graduated college before social networking and never experienced that kind of gossip. I would imagine it can be grueling for the high school & college communities.


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