By this point, the “UW Madison Confessions” Facebook page should need no introduction.
The page, which allows anyone to post confessions anonymously through an online survey system, has gained 13,698 likes in less than 10 days since its creation on Feb. 11. According to the administrator of the page, who is remaining anonymous, it is a great place for debates and funny stories.
Despite its fun nature, some posts involve controversial topics such as underage drinking, drug use, sexual assaults and various violations of university policies.
The page’s administrator said in an email with The Badger Herald he keeps his identity a secret so the page does not affect him personally. Followers of the page refer to him as “The Creator.”
“I never post confessions admitting to a serious crime, confessions about Greek Life or confessions that name specific people in a negative way,” the page’s administrator said.
He said he looks through more than 1,000 confessions a day and chooses the best ones to post.
The selection process takes multiple hours on a daily basis, and the administrator said he reads less than 10 percent of the comments. He did, however, say he will address the comments for victim-blaming and identification of specific individuals through de-facto censorship.
“I rarely ever look at comments on a post,” he said. “I have banned people from this page if I feel they are being to graphic in the things they say and enough people complain.”
Aly Jarocki, chair of Promoting Awareness, Victim Empowerment, said she believes the page could continue as a potentially good forum if the administrator follows through on that statement.
Jarocki said the page as a whole is a great idea, but there are serious issues with the execution.
“This person who created this and is choosing what to post needs to take responsibility for what is put on the webpage,” she said. “I’m hoping that’s where it will go, otherwise it will fade out like every other Facebook fad.”
Although new volunteers have come into the PAVE office after being upset by victim-blaming comments on the UW Confessions page, Jarocki said.
The administrator said he will direct sexual assault victims to the proper resources, but said he is not responsible for monitoring university policy violations.
“It is not my job to monitor underage drinking or marijuana use,” the administrator said. “However, if there was a confession about murder, rape, assault… I would gladly help the police, I want my campus to be safe for everybody.”
The administrator plans to launch a website with confessions, a merchandise store and a networking aspect.
Katy Culver, a professor in the School of Journalism & Mass Communications, said the anonymity of the creator’s identity raises ethical problems because there is no way to confirm the creator’s identity or interests.
“Some of the things that have been posted have been very problematic, some of the things are inappropriate,” Culver said. “I think the university can trust its students to say whether this is something they want for their community.”
The page’s creator said he would remain anonymous to separate the page from his personal life.
The university has contacted the page’s administrator to make sure the page complies with UW communication policies.
“I asked the Confessions to stop using the Motion W and UW crest on Twitter and Facebook, as it is not affiliated with the university,” John Lucas, a UW spokesperson, said in an email with The Badger Herald. “The site complied.”
The Dean of Students’ office declined to comment on the issue.