Let’s Stop With CollegeACB.com, OK?
I like gossip. You know, the pretty harmless kind: who hooked up with who at that party last week, who has a crush on who, who was spotted doing the walk of shame… Little tidbits that don’t really matter. And really, who doesn’t like that stuff?
But as much as I enjoy hearing all the dirt about the girl down the hall from me, I draw the line somewhere. And that somewhere is online.
For those of you who don’t know, after JuicyCampus.com was shut down, another website popped up in it’s place. It’s called CollegeACB.com and it has quickly become the nightmare of many. Including myself.
According to Peter Frank, the founder of CollegeACB.com, the purpose of the site is for people to post anonymous threads and comments about “any facet of college life.”
“The College ACB or College Anonymous Confession Board seeks to give students a place to vent, rant, and talk to college peers in an environment free from social constraints and about subjects that might otherwise be taboo.”
His words are well-chosen and seemingly innocent, but as anyone who has visited this website understands, Frank is simply camouflaging what the site is really for: vicious gossip.
When you go CollegeACB.com, you’re greeted with a list of schools which have pages on the website. When you click on one, you’re taken to that school’s gossip page, which is filled with anonymous posts and replies to posts. All saying incredibly hurtful things – which may or may not be true – about real people. There are pages upon pages about the biggest sluts, the ugliest girls and other terrible things that should never be hashed out over the internet.
After being a victim of a vicious rumor spread about me via CollegeACB, I have to wonder why a site like this even exists. The site’s users and target demographic are college students. Adults. We are not in high school and we are most certainly not on the set of Gossip Girl, so why are schools, especially mine, so obsessed with such a childish and disgusting site?
The biggest problem with CollegeACB (and the main reason JuicyCampus went kaput) is that people can write absolutely whatever they want without repercussion. Because people know what they say on CollegeACB can never be traced back to them, they feel like they have the freedom to say anything – be it a made-up story, a secret that someone confided to them or simply complaining about someone’s fashion choices. This lack of real moderation means that the subject of all these “opinions” can’t fight back, clear their name, or even find out who said it. And thanks to the permanence of the internet, true or not, that statement will be forever linked to that person’s name.
It is bad enough that Peter Frank has created a space that fosters negativity and blatant sexism, but it is even more disconcerting that so many students feel the desire to hide behind their computer screens and spread vicious gossip about one another. Gossip that can really harm other people’s reputations and college experiences. Sure, most girls have probably never been a victim of a site like this, but it’s only a matter of time. The longer this site stays around, the more people will be discussed. And if anyone can say anything, what’s to say you won’t be next? Just imagine how you’d feel. Then imagine how much worse it will be down the road when you’re applying for a job and your potential employer can what some random person posted about you on this despicable site.
Gossip happens in college – I get that – but there’s a huge difference between what you may tell your best friend and what you share with anyone who has access to the Internet. The web is a good place for lots of things, like funny Youtube videos and advice on how to look cute when you have to cover yourself in layers so you don’t freeze (very useful at Northwestern), but it shouldn’t be a place to rant about people, to get back at people, or to share someone’s deepest held secrets.
If you are one of the many students frequenting a site like CollegeACB, stop. Grow up. Think about your actions. Even if no one out there knows who you are, you do! Are you really the type of person who purposely hurts someone else?