"When social media goes bad". Photo credit to acu.edu.au
CSS Confessions and CSS Passouts Twitter pages are back again and are out to kill by maliciously attacking students of The College of St. Scholastica, Duluth.
"To those who are posting such things: We welcome you, deeply and wholly into this community, and you repay the community like this? How dare you!" Megan Perry-Spears, the Dean of Students at CSS expressed in a passionate email sent to the student community. These words echo the frustration of many students on campus as a result of this social media attack on the student body.
The CSS Confessions and CSS Passouts Twitter pages are fueled by information sent in to an "anonymous site". Once this information (a confession) is sent in, it is published onto the social media site for the public to see. While seemingly fun in nature at first, the Twitter pages quickly spiraled into a mess of cruel rumors, racial slurs, and "slut slamming" (a derogatory term used to identify promiscuous females). CSS Confessions (Twitter) included names of specific individuals, identified student athlete groups, and included information that was personal enough to allow students to be identified in these slurs. CSS Passouts posted photos of CSS Students that are just that, unconscious.
These Twitter pages are not only harming students but also disrespecting the college. Using the college's official logos to represent a page that is so far from the Benedictine Values is not only disrespectful, and illegal, but it is also portraying an inaccurate picture of the CSS student community.
According to Rob Larson, faculty member of CSS that teaches human communication, media literacy and introduction to broadcasting, social media is not the culprit directly responsible for the damage, but rather a potentially dangerous tool that people use at their discretion.
"Social media is dangerous in the way that it can wreak havoc in the lives of people," and this happens when students have, "reckless abandon for people's privacy." Larson states that social media is a reflection of behavior and that to combat the pages, the school and community should inform and educate how damaging social media can be.
Perry-Spears also does not place blame upon the social media site for being the root of the problem. "I'm not opposed to tools of social media, but sometimes users forget that it's all public," and through them everything lives forever according to Perry Spears. "We are not trying to get anyone in trouble, just trying to stop the harm," in response to the CSS Confesions/Passouts Twitter pages creating pages on Facebook, she tweeted them both, "Hi! I see you are 'back'. Please be aware this is a public feed. Your words and actions (and pictures) matter and 'count'."
CSS Twitter Confessions and Passouts are no strangers to the lives of CSS students with pages popping up every year. Larson offers a caution to students, "Social media pages such as these damaging ones are dangerous to start, participate in, follow, and imagine to control."
Despite the damage inflicted upon the student body by CSS Confessions/ Passouts, there is a new force arising that is proving to be an excellent example of how social media can be used to build, rather than break down the student community and our Benedictine Values.
According to Perry-Spears, the "CSS Confessions" page on Facebook has not received any complaints yet. The CSS Confessions Facebook Page respectfully has a disclaimer on its profile stating that "CSS Confessions is not affiliated with, endorsed by, or approved by the college of St. Scholastica," which is respecting the integrity of the college.
In an anonymous conversation with the moderator(s) of the page, the moderator(s) says that, "The purpose behind creating this CSS Confessions Page was to just be a source of anonymous humor that lifts people up and helps build community while staying true to the Bendictine Values as much as practically possible. A lot of other schools have their own confessions page, and I wanted one that reflected what a great school this really is."
Overall, the responses from students about the CSS Confessions Facebook page has been filled with positive feedback and many students feel as though the page is a place where students can share humor and through this support one another in our Benedictine Community.
"I like the Facebook page a lot, it is filled with positive feedback and none of the negative stuff that I saw on Twitter. The confessions are friendly, but funny," expressed CSS student Kaitlyn Lougiu.
Everything that you put online is permanent so we are asking the student body to be mindful in everything you post and not to take part in social media that aims to damage the lives of your fellow students.
Be Bold. Be Benedictine. In every word, thought, and deed. Cor et Anima.