Burn Books of “Mean Girls” fame are hitting college campuses nationwide and are becoming increasingly popular in a mutant form: gossip Web sites.
The sites, which include www.gossipreport.com and
www.juicycampus.com, allow students to anonymously contribute to a specific campus’ online Burn Book.
Not only does the Internet facilitate student use of the pages, but it makes it easier for everyone to read often fictitious comments about other students. The Internet is easily accessible, a good feature for busy students. But in this case, easy Internet access is doing more harm than good.
An article in the April 14 issue of People Magazine highlights the story of one student at Duke University who dropped out of a class after finding anonymous posts on JuicyCampus that said she was ugly and suicidal.
The founder of JuicyCampus wrote in a letter users should “Remember that words can hurt, and the people you are talking about are real.” But if you think words can hurt, why create the site at all?
So far on GossipReport and JuicyCampus there are no
Linfield-related listings. Only four “G-strings,” or tagged gossip tidbits, were hit when searching for Oregon on www.gossipreport.com.
Let’s keep it that way. It seems outrageous that students would post mean comments on a site like either of these. You may not like someone, and you may need to complain to your roommates sometimes, but keep your gossip and complaints to someone you trust.
The pages seem to be Facebook and MySpace gone wild. Fighting on walls and through comments is bad enough; we do not see a need to take personal issues to the national scene.
GossipReport encourages users to “anonymously talk about anyone you want. Instead of creating a profile about yourself, you can create a profile about someone else. Get in the loop. Go Gossip!”
We encourage you to do anything but that.
What benefit is there in a site with such rampant malicious content? For the owners of the pages, the benefit from ad sales means more green for their wallets. For the college student who reads that he or she supposedly has this or has done that, there is no value. When people read the posts that may or may not be true, rumors will start spreading and reputations will be ruined.
The worst part is no legal action can be taken. According to the People article, in 1996 the U.S. Congress allowed Internet service providers immunity from libel prosecution when the defamation of character was done by a user. This legislation effectively eliminates any sort of restriction on who writes what.
First Amendment rights allow us to make fun and belittle who-ever we want in whatever form we want—it’s called free speech. The point is we shouldn’t be doing that. It’s a matter of human decency.
We encourage you to stay away from sites that encourage public gossiping. Take a lesson from “Mean Girls” and don’t use these Burn Books to hurt others.