Campus obssession with gossip forums only promotes cyber-bullying
With increased awareness of cyber-bullying, we are both surprised and disappointed that students at Carnegie Mellon have recently been perpetuating this form of bullying through online forums. For college students all over the United States, anonymous forum posting has become a major source of gossip and rumor.
Websites like College ACB, or College Anonymous Confession Board, have become extremely traffic-heavy, with new threads and comments being added by the hour. Many students and faculty have taken a stand against College ACB and other websites of its nature, and until now such sites have always been hosted outside of Carnegie Mellon and never from within.
This past week, however, flyers advertising a new anonymous forum, www.CMUfeed.com, were posted throughout campus.
Found in bathrooms, dorm rooms, and halls of various academic buildings, these flyers showed the significant amount of effort the creators of this forum put in to popularizing their website.
Visually similar to a Twitter feed, CMUfeed allowed students to post comments on topics as arbitrary as the weather, as well as on distasteful and spiteful threads involving specifically named students. The site essentially marketed itself as a Carnegie Mellon-only version of College ACB, with the same type of hurtful gossip, rumors, and slander filling the forum.
Although the creators of the website removed much of its content by last Saturday, posting instead a message claiming that they were unhappy with the nature of the content being posted, we have to ask — what were they expecting?
CMUfeed, as an anonymous feed, presented the same hazard as websites like College ACB and its controversial predecessor, JuicyCampus. College ACB was founded in 2008 under the name JHUConfessions.com, pertaining solely to students at Johns Hopkins University. It has since turned into an anonymous forum for over 500 colleges across the United States.
Forums like JuicyCampus, College ACB, and CMUfeed do little but perpetuate divisiveness and bad feelings on college campuses. Threads on the Carnegie Mellon page of College ACB provoke personal attacks and damage reputations through rumor, with threads discussing topics like “who is the biggest slut?” to “reasons why I hate....”
College campuses need to follow suit with campaigns like the U.S. Department of Health and Services’ “Stop Bullying Now!” and the Anti-Bullying Network’s fight against cyber-bullying, and become places that are thought of as the last place where anonymous and juvenile online harassment should be promoted.
We believe that as an institute dedicated to the advancement of technology, Carnegie Mellon and its students have an obligation to be good stewards of such technology and refrain from abusing it through the perpetuation of online bullying on our campus. As leaders in the computer science arena, Carnegie Mellon’s good stewardship of technology may very well influence others and help end cyber-bullying.