Opinion

Internet anonymity has its limits

Anonymous Facebook pages tailored to university communities have become a popular outlet for college students looking to express themselves freely. At the University of Miami, several hundred students have liked the pages UMiami Secrets, U Miami Whispers and UMiami Admirers, to name a few.

The idea is similar to the PostSecret project, where people anonymously mail in secrets on a homemade postcard. When creator Frank Warren visited campus in 2011, he emphasized the healthy need to share secrets and the empowering feeling of connecting to someone with the same secret.

But because of this anonymity, many of the Facebook pages have become an online version of a campus gossip tabloid. Despite the prevalence of inappropriate and disrespectful comments, students still have the freedom of expression.

There shouldn’t be restrictions on the existence of these pages, but both users and page administrators should realize that there are limitations to anonymity – especially when it comes to criminal activity.

The risk of these anonymous confessionals was demonstrated at Boston College last week when a student on the BC Confessions page posted about sexually assaulting three girls. Police were notified, and the student admins of the page turned over information on the submission to authorities.

Facebook pages granting anonymity to their users create an expectation of privacy, which is the reason people feel comfortable revealing thoughts that they wouldn’t otherwise. But it’s ultimately a false sense of security.

Administrators running the pages have taken on responsibility for the posts that are published online. It’s their job to monitor content and report crimes to authorities.

In fact, confessions to crimes should not be published in the first place. Because these pages are named in connection to universities with a reputation to uphold, it’s unwise to cause alarm and portray the institution in a bad light.

The anonymous BC Confessions post, for example, was later deemed a hoax, according to an article in The Heights, BC’s student newspaper; thus, it created an unnecessary panic that could’ve been avoided had it been privately reported to authorities. In this case, screening posts should not be considered censorship, but rather a form of ensuring safety and justice.

It’s emotionally relieving to let the truth out. But page users should remember to exercise caution, and admins should take action when there are people who don’t.

 

Editorials represent the majority view of The Miami Hurricane editorial board.

October 9, 2013

Reporters

The Miami Hurricane


Around the Web
  • Miami Herald
  • UM News
  • HurricaneSports

Shakey Rodriguez, the Miami high school basketball coaching legend, vividly remembers the first time ...

It was a good day for the Miami Hurricanes basketball team. They moved up to No. 6 in the AP Top 25 ...

Erykah Davenport and Shaneese Bailey made key plays back-to-back late in the game and four players s ...

1. MARLINS: Jeter's Fish trade Gordon. Stanton next?: While others spend -- like the Angels to ...

A six-pack of Hurricanes notes on a Thursday: ▪ With the first ever early signing period just two we ...

William W. Sandler Jr. Center for Alcohol and Other Drug Education earns national recognition for it ...

Retired baseball star Alex Rodriguez gives "Major League" advice to UM’s fall graduating c ...

Becoming the Man of the Hour ...

Always a little bit of a flair for the dramatic. ...

A scholarship created by retired Major League Baseball star Alex Rodriguez and born out of his love ...

University of Miami senior wide receiver Braxton Berrios earned 2017 first-team 2017 CoSIDA Academic ...

The Hurricanes and Colonials square off at noon Saturday in Washington, D.C. ...

University of Miami men's basketball player Chris Stowell is an active member in the Hurricanes ...

Eighteen Hurricane student-athletes graduated from four schools and colleges at the University of Mi ...

Miami director of track and field/cross country Amy Deem's incredible career earned her a place ...

TMH Twitter Feed
About TMH

The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly in print on Tuesdays during the regular academic year.