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A venue for innocent fun has turned into the perfect platform for cyber bullying.
Twitter confessions pages recently grew in popularity among students at MSUM, but as the sites begin to single out more and more students, they’re becoming recognized for bullying.
The tweets or confessions reveal everything from secret crushes to underage drinking and out-of-control partying, to sexual fantasies about classmates and even professors.
The moderator of MSUM Confessions Twitter account (@confessMSUM), who wishes to remain anonymous, said the purpose of confessions accounts, in general, is to be something like PostSecret, where people can post their most private thoughts without fear of being identified.”
Anonymity allows students to express their concerns without fear; however, that anonymity is leading to cyber bullying in some cases. Some confessions directly or indirectly identify specific students and faculty members, whether it’s by first and last name or a specific description.
Lane Zyvoloski, a mass communications senior who felt personally attacked by the MSUM Confessions Twitter page, said, “it’s very high school.”
“You can say anything because your name isn’t attached to it and that makes you not accountable for what you say,” Zyvoloski said, “and that’s where cyber bullying comes in.”
While some students find the confessions funny, the students or faculty members being targeted might not being laughing along.
Lynn Peterson, coordinator for sexual assault services at Hendrix Health said a number of the tweets are very sexual and if someone’s been assaulted, they may react differently than others. “I think sometimes when people say ‘I want to do this to you,’ I think they see what they’re saying as a compliment … but it may not be a compliment to that other person,” she said. “It may scare them. It may create fear.” Carol Grimm, director of Hendrix Health added, “Just because I want to say it doesn’t mean the other person wants to hear it.”
Peterson and Grimm recognize that the confessions pages are a form of free speech and not directly connected to MSUM; therefore, the school cannot shut them down. However, they want to remind students to think twice before submitting something.
“I’d like people to really think about what they’re saying and how it might affect someone,” Peterson said. “People don’t know what somebody’s background has been or what life experiences they’ve had that could be negative.”
The moderator of @confessMSUM said she judges each submission based on her own standards and realizes her standards are different than others.
“If you want something taken down … submit that and I’ll listen,” she said. “I don’t sit at my computer laughing maniacally at the idea of all this power, or whatever. I’m the messenger, that’s all.”
BY JASMINE MAKI