Students' Facebook confessions scrutinized by university officials

University officials say they are keeping an eye on new Facebook pages where students can post anonymous confessions about their lives — and their school.

Anonymous posters talk about life at university

Secret confessions on Facebook noticed by university officials


8 years ago
University officials are keeping watch on new Facebook confession pages, Sheryl Rennie reports. 2:18

University officials in Regina and Saskatoon say they are keeping an eye on new Facebook pages where students can post anonymous confessions about their lives — and their school.

The pages, which are not authorized by the institutions, have attracted considerable attention as students seem quite open about sharing personal information in a very public forum.

"It's fun," University of Regina student Leah Carter, who has herself left a few posts, told CBC News. "It definitely makes me feel closer to the people at the university."

While many of the posts are innocuous enough, Carter talked about having a fun time at a dance, some people have delved into sensitive areas, like mental illness and drug use.

Posters have told tales of driving drunk to school or bragged about having sex on campus. Others have posted comments on the appearance or sexual orientation of students and teachers, all under the cloak of anonymity.

University eyes are watching

But university officials are keeping tabs on the pages.

Statement from Facebook:

"Our Statement of Rights and Responsibilities prohibits the posting of content that bullies or harasses. We maintain a robust reporting infrastructure to keep an eye out for offensive or potentially dangerous content. This reporting infrastructure includes a trained team of reviewers who respond to reports and escalate them to law enforcement as needed."

"There were a number of comments made in regards to aboriginal students that were inappropriate and offensive," Ivan Muzychka, associate vice-president of communications at the U of S, told CBC News.

In the case of the racist comments, a moderator of the U of S Confessions page removed the posts before a formal complaint was lodged.

"I think the administrators of the site are practising a kind of due diligence," Muzychka said. "But I wouldn't hesitate to lodge a complaint if something bordered on a hate crime or was objectionable in another way."

Facebook has also taken notice of the trend and recently closed a confessions page created about a high school in Thunder Bay, Ont. Posts on that page targeted a teacher and the school called police.

CBC News spoke to three moderators of confessions pages, who agreed to answer questions if their names were not disclosed.

They all said they get many submissions about illegal activity, but those are not published.

They say the pages are for students to share their feelings on things such as loneliness or their struggles with relationships.

Students, like Carter, are OK with that.

"It's just real cool," she said. "And we can support them and they can talk about those feelings and there's no judgment."

With files from CBC's Sheryl Rennie and Bonnie Allen