UPDATE March 5
The SFSU Confessions page which was scrolled and shared by thousands of SF State students shut down Sunday night, as the page administrator’s fear of legal battles grew.
Many schools have their own “confessions” page, often started by students. SFSU Confessions followed a similar template, where students could submit anonymous secrets to the administrator of the page through a third party website, and the funniest and most scintillating secrets would be posted for the world to see. Anyone could access the page, and all posts were entered anonymously.
Confessions ranged from people admitting crushes to students suggesting they wanted to commit suicide.
As more and more students viewed and posted their confessions, the Administrator heard rumors around school about SF State trying to shut down the page.
“I decided to make the decision to shut down the page in efforts to protect myself for personal reasons,” he said.
SF State’s page jumped to over 3,000 Facebook “likes” in only a few weeks, with over 65,000 views a day in its peak week. The site mostly averaged around 35,000 views a day, according to Facebook data from the page.
The page’s popularity was part of the problem, said the administrator, who wished to remain anonymous. He proved his identity by sharing screen data from SFSU Confessions via Skype in real time.
The administrator still did not want his identity to go public, but was willing to reveal that he is a male, 18-year-old freshman.
He was concerned about his academic standing, he said, and feared legal battles with SF State. He said that no one from the school had contacted him directly through his Facebook page, but the rumors began to swirl, and he wanted to pre-empt them. His parents were also concerned.
“If I was at risk then they wanted me to be protected,” the administrator said.
Notably, Marygrace Delucchi, the area coordinator for SF State’s two campus dorm buildings, said in our previous coverage of SFSU Confessions that she did not believe SFSU Confessions should be shut down.
Instead, Delucchi started an online privacy education campaign by posting mock-confessions on Mary Park and Mary Ward hall bulletin boards, asking students to be careful what they post.
Other schools across the nation have cracked down on their university confessions pages, however. The Loras College confessions page in Iowa was shut down pretty quickly after it started, according to a news broadcast from their local news station KWWL. But the chance of similar legal troubles at SF State are not clear.
SF State spokesperson Ellen Griffin was contacted regarding the confessions page, and referred Xpress to Dean of Students Joey Greenwell.
When Greenwell responds this post will be updated.
The administrator of the confessions also wanted to note that if he heard from SF State officials that his page was not in trouble of legal scrutiny, and he wasn’t in trouble academically due to his page, that he would start it up again.
“Without a doubt,” he said.
An hour before the administrator shut down his page, he made a final post hinting at new things to come.
“Unfortunately, there has been too much heat caused by this page,” he wrote. “Although this is the end of the page, it doesn’t mean a new page isn’t far away… hopefully, in the near future we can come together again and share funny, gross, awkward stories anonymously together.”
“Keep out an eye for bigger and better things to come,” he wrote.
The last confession posted to the page before it shut down was #2,781. It read: “In general I am a pretty lucky person, but when it comes to getting the person that I like I am unlucky. Like someone ate all the marshmallows out of my Lucky Charms.”
SF State student Catherine Anne Gastelum, an 18-year-old freshman thinks the closure of SFSU Confessions can make the page better in the future.
“Not a lot of people realize how this page has hurt many students,” she said.
She grew concerned after seeing the mock-confessions posted by Delucchi in the dorms. The mock-confessions ask students to rethink posting mean-spirited comments, information that may lead to stalking, or “outing” students who may be in the closet.
“Hopefully, if a page like this is put up in the future, students will use it for the right reason, and not the wrong,” Gastelum said.
UPDATE March 5:
SF State Dean of Students Joseph Greenwell said that though the content of the confessions pages aren’t problematic, the use of the SFSU brand name might be the real problem.
“As far as my knowledge, there has not been any University conduct processes put in place regarding the confessions Facebook sites,” Greenwell said. “However, where the University does have concerns is the use of the University’s name.With any (entity) using the name San Francisco State University, SFSU, or SF State, the administrator to the page claims an affiliation with or endorsement by the University, where none exists. The University routinely informs individuals and groups when such violations occur.”
On a personal note, Greenwell said, he was concerned about how anonymity could sharpen students’ comments to be harsher towards each other.
“It may seem easier to make statements, sometimes hurtful ones, when one can hide behind anonymity and there is no recourse for one’s actions,” he said. “I care about our students and hope that the individual(s) creating these pages monitor them and make the right decisions should they have any personal concerns about the activity on their sites.”
Though the original confessions page is down, four other copycat pages popped up almost immediately after it disappeared from Facebook.
At the time of this writing, none has surpassed even 200 “likes,” the original page had over 3,700 at the time it was deleted.
The original confessions page admin said he still has 14 days to revive the page before its deleted forever, and that he may still change his mind and bring it back.
One of the admins of the new confessions pages also revealed one more interesting tidbit — the San Francisco Chronicle started interviewing them for their own story.
The greater population of San Francisco and the Bay Area may now be the newest audience for the confessions pages.
SF State’s anonymous confessions are about to get a whole lot less private.