Milton Gossip Accounts Raise Controversy
by Ilve Bayturk on Friday, March 8th, 2013
Everybody has secrets. In a place like Milton Academy where teenage students suffer from enormous amounts of stress, why wouldn’t anyone want to take a break from academics and indulge in some gossip? A few months ago, a Facebook account by the name of “Milton Compliments” was created. Anyone who was friends with “Milton Compliments” could send a message to the account, which would later post these messages as statuses without giving away the name of the sender. Before long, a similar account called “Milton Confessions” was created. This new account worked the same way as “Milton Compliments”, but instead of nice and funny compliments about the school or the students, posts shared students’ often offensive secret confessions.
As expected, some students quickly became obsessed with these two accounts when they first surfaced. However, the frenzy soon died down. Both accounts posted statuses minute after minute and filled up everyone’s news feed. Then, as nothing “juicy” was being announced, students’ interest waned. Although the accounts eventually lost their appeal, they had campus-wide notoriety at the height of their popularity.
Unlike last year’s anonymous Twitter accounts “Stang Virgin” and “The Stang Whisperer,” which maliciously targeted students and fabricated gossipy stories about them, these Facebook accounts spread largely positive and humorous thoughts. Nevertheless, anonymous sites are volatile by nature. Some “compliments” were actually sarcastic jabs, and some “confessions” were closer to anonymous snipes at other students or inappropriate comments about faculty members. For every few students flattered by anonymous compliments, a student was offended or humiliated by his or her peers.
As with Milton students’ previous online gossip ventures, both the Compliments and Confessions sites were eventually deactivated. Unlike the Twitter accounts, however, whose creators voluntarily signed off in Gossip Girl-fashion, the administration took action to shut down these Facebook accounts. Faculty members contacted Facebook and requested that the groups be taken down for their unauthorized use of the Milton seal, potential e-bullying, and harassment.
Certainly, these accounts had positive aspects. The few short weeks in which Milton Compliments and Milton Confessions were active provided students with a break from studying, and students were amused by fun and light-hearted comments by their peers. Nevertheless, select posts were hurtful, and the anonymity involved brought potential risks, no matter how pure the creators’ original intentions. While largely innocent, these accounts had the potential to cause drama and harm the Milton community, and the administration’s reaction was understandable.
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