Student hopes to reform a college gossip website

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CollegeACB, a gossip site where students from colleges around the country post anonymous comments, is sometimes used to discuss simple issues such as where to go for dinner, but recently, rumors, negativity and controversies have been rapidly spreading within college communities because of sites like CollegeACB.

“It’s time to take the ‘anonymous’ out of CollegeACB” is an online movement that aims to bring awareness to the tensions anonymous posts can bring to a college community. Haley Winters, a USC freshman majoring in theatre, launched the movement on CollegeACB on March 21.

“I looked through the site and was shocked at how vicious and cruel people are to one another,” she said. “I was sitting and watching, hoping someone [would] do something about it.”

Since most people post anonymously on the website, users do not face any repercussions after their posts have been made, no matter how hurtful or derogatory their words might be.

Wendy Wood, a USC social psychology professor, said deindividuation, a psychology theory that explains how people behave in ways they normally wouldn’t when they can’t be identified, is a reason websites like CollegeACB can get out of control.

“When people are sitting in front of a computer screen, other people are not physically present in front of them,” Wood said. “If you can’t see those other people, then you can act in ways you otherwise wouldn’t.”

USC students can turn to CollegeACB to know what’s going on around campus, but some find the negative comments to be detrimental.

“It is anonymous and that is what makes it so popular, but it is still wrong.” said Brillante Wang, a sophomore majoring in business administration. “It is technically freedom of speech, but it is also pretty messed up since it is targeting this population to make a lot of negative ideas come out.”

Jordan Leipzig, a freshman majoring in critical studies, said students should be able to recognize when a post on the website is ridiculous.

“It’s better if [CollegeACB] remains anonymous because you get more honest opinions. You can tell what to take seriously and what not to take seriously on CollegeACB,” Leipzig said.

Jessica Frey, a sophomore majoring in theatre, said she finds it disconcerting that students can anonymously post whatever they want.

“In general, the site is a bad idea, but if there was a name attached to people’s posts it would help prevent rude and nasty posts,” Frey said.

According to Winters, an anonymous sites such as CollegeACB are not good for a college community because people make degrading comments about specific individuals and groups. She hopes her movement will reach others who feel the same way and do not support the anonymous negative postings.

“I realized that if I don’t do anything, then it is like I agree with it,” Winters said. “People don’t seem to think they should be responsible for their own work.”

Though often unintentional, the information on a website such as CollegeACB can become viral and quickly create news across the nation. Winters’ movement on CollegeACB comes at a time following various instances that caused controversy after college students made comments online.

First, there was the alleged infamous Kappa Sigma email degrading women, and, most recently, the scandalous photographs of students appearing to engage in sexual activities on the rooftop of a building on campus.

There appears to be a continuing pattern of students making derogatory posts on the Internet, according to Winters.

“There seems to be a problem with our generation,” Winters said. “Cyberbullying is becoming more of a problem coming into college.”

Winters has received more than 200 online signatures of support so far. Not all of those signatures are from USC students, as the movement has also spread to students from other campuses, including Bard College and Cornell.

“The majority of responses have been positive, but there are still plenty of negative ones out there,” she said.

Winters said she has no plans to send this list of names to anyone but only wants to keep the list to remind students that the things they say on the site can hurt others.

“It is about taking a stand as a USC community and supporting the people who have been victimized,” Winters said.

4 replies
  1. Rob
    Rob says:

    Mars you’re a bit off buddy. Kids were always mean, true, but the avenues to act like this (like via public message boards) never existed before. Where do all these terms like “trolling” come from? (it wasnt from Charlie Sheen btw) Its from people who hide behind a computer screen saying things aloud they’d never want to be held accountable for.

    Look at that kid from Kappa Sig who wrote that email…100/1 odds when he wrote that email he thought it was absolutely hilarious and it was all good, the second that went up on Huffington Post I guarantee you he **** his pants wondering if he was ever going to be held accountable for that and his name would be distributed online. The embarassment from that would’ve been 10x worse than what any female blogger felt when she read that article because it would haunt him for the rest of his life.

    well thanks to the internet, we can talk crap about anyone and we’ll never get held accountable for it

  2. MarsMc
    MarsMc says:

    It doesn’t seem like the problem is that this generation is just “meaner”; kids have always been mean, kids have always bullied those they see as weak. The problem seems to be the victim philosophy this generation has adopted that results in a disproportionately emotional response to what is basically just gossip and name-calling. Grow some thicker skin for God’s sake!

    • George
      George says:

      Grow up. There are so many more means to go about being an ***hole than ever before. It even gives power to those who are weak to act like it – it is a disease.

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