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Updated: April 14, 2013 20:05 IST

Confessions go viral

Niharika Pandit
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 This undated product image released by Facebook on Wednesday, (AP Photo/Facebook)
 This undated product image released by Facebook on Wednesday, (AP Photo/Facebook)

Confession pages on Facebook have turned into a platform for some students to post derogatory comments.

“Confession pages are distracting. I log onto Facebook every two minutes only to read these hilarious confessions,” read Aadhya Sharma’s status on Facebook. Aadhya’s examinations are in a week’s time. But every-minute updates on her college confession page have made it difficult for her to focus on her studies. Like Aadhya, there are many others for whom college confession pages have become a great source of mindless entertainment.

Anonymity

Confession pages is the most recent trend among college students on Facebook. Started as a portal to confess anything anonymously, a lot of these pages now have begun posting derogatory comments about peers, professors and institutions. The confessions range from college students posting about their professors to students poking fun at their classmates by commenting on their attire and body language. Students have also used confession pages to confess their ‘love’ for fellow classmates. Interestingly, confession pages of many premier engineering institutions, including the IITs have become just another dating portal.

One of the posts on a Mumbai-based college confessions portal read, “I like this girl but then I was going through her photographs and her mom is hotter! lol Can't help it, will have to propose her only.” Another comment read: “Why do these chicks put on so much make-up and wear heels to college? I come to college with slippers and loose t-shirt's. And, I just look at them, and think wth? /:”

The idea behind confession pages was unclear. “Although confession pages may have started off as an attempt at fraternising, they have now become indicators of the skewed priorities of young students. They showcase the poor language skills, an unhealthy focus on appearance and a tendency to take shelter in cliques,” said Malathi Jogi, student of Economics in Jai Hind College.

Less than a week after Facebook experienced a surge of college confession pages, several troll pages came up with numerous memes countering content which went viral. Many students were both irritated and distracted. Something had obviously gone wrong.

Many college students do not endorse the idea of confession pages. Initially, it may have started off for having a good time, but eventually students began posting nasty comments. Unnati Maharudra, a journalism student, believes that it may not be right to curb the freedom of expression. However, a certain level of decency in language must be ensured. “Students are using these pages as just another portal to target others they may not like. Thus, comments on looks, clothes, personality have become common,” she said.

Yet, there are a significant number of other students who really do not care about what goes up on such pages. “It doesn’t make a difference to our lives when others are busy talking out loud about classmates. It is just another amusement,” said Arunima Joshua.

Legal measures

While the anonymity available here no doubt encourages and enables people to express with candour, the flip side cannot be ignored. “We have seen too often that anonymity becomes a front and a reason for using invective. Sexist comments, misogynist statements, harassment, bullying, intrusions into privacy — these aren’t unlikely fallouts. Such actions have the potential to end up on the wrong side of the law, especially the IT Act. Section 66 A, though antediluvian in many aspects, becomes an efficient tool for checking such abuse. Section 66E, dealing with violations of privacy and electronic transmission of obscene materials and pictures, can also be enforced,” said Saurav Datta, professor of Media Law in KC College.

With students poking fun at each other, it is extremely important to maintain the critical dividing line between expression and expletive.

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