Secrets don’t make friends, but anonymous secrets might.
Less than two weeks ago, a Facebook page named “TAMUK Confessions” was created for students of Texas A&M University-Kingsville (TAMUK) to make anonymous posts.
Confession pages have become a recent trend, as universities and high schools across the nation have made their own versions.
Andrew Frimpong, a civil engineering major, and Chidi Igbelina, accounting/finance major, got the idea to make the page for this campus after seeing a confession page for the University of Houston (UH).
“I had some friends from UH so I started getting information from their confession page on my newsfeed,” Frimpong said. “I thought it was a novel idea…so I basically followed that template and made one for TAMUK.”
The page immediately began to pick up buzz around the school and has received over 1800 followers since its creation. Students began discovering the page either through Facebook, or like freshman Linden Eli, who found out through word of mouth in the classroom.
“I was talking to people in my class, and they had mentioned that they had been spending too much time on it,” he said. “They showed it to me and I became interested.”
The anonymity aspect of the website is what attracts TAMUK students to it.
“I imagine it’s like a building giant wall on campus, with no cameras around, and you’re giving students a pen and telling them to leave their mark,” Frimpong said.
“The Internet has always been about anonymity,” Eli said. “People have always been scared to put their name on something, but if you can get it out there to a populace that understands you, it’s soothing.”
Students post their confessions to a site known as Survey Monkey. From there, the moderators look through their inbox of anonymous statements and decide which confession to post.
“We get up to 200 submissions per hour,” Igbelina said. “They post what they want to post and we pick the best one.”
The confessions that make it to the Facebook page vary in topic. While most posts are light-hearted, there have been more serious ones too. The moderators have even received a confession that hinted to a possible suicide.
“There was one time where we got a submission that said ‘I feel like I want to end it.’ You can’t just not react to that,” Frimpong said. “We posted the link to the national suicide hotline and advised our followers to go to the wellness center for things like that.”
Though the page has been popular, there has been some controversy surrounding it, as some of the confessions deal with students having sexual relations with their professors.
“Because the page is not affiliated with the university anyway, there’s not much we can do about (those posts),” said Adriana Garza-Flores, who is with TAMUK’s Office of Marketing and Communications. “If there are issues about bullying or any other thing, they can report that to our Facebook, but until then, we can’t do anything.”
Though those types of confessions may not be true, Frimpong said it is ultimately up to the reader to make that decision for themselves.
“If it is true, we have no way of proving it,” Frimpong said. “Does it tarnish the name of the university to think that such unethical practices are going on? Possibly. It really all depends on how people will take it.”
Besides that, there have been some crude posts on the page, which have received some criticism.
“I’m actually horrified by some of it, there’s a lot of inappropriate stuff,” said Elizabeth Clancy, a mechanical engineer major. “It almost sounds made up.”
Clancy said she likes the page, just not all of its content.
“I think it’s entertaining and I think it should go on,” she said. “Just not with the content that gets posted.”
The moderators have also admitted they haven’t always used their best judgment when they decide what to post.
“We’ve made mistakes, but we’re going to try to be stricter for now on and post more things about the school,” Igbelina said. “We’re still going to try to keep it funny too.”
Regardless of its content, no unaffiliated campus page has gained as much of a following as TAMUK Confessions. The moderators view it as a tool that can unite students and inspire a sense of community.
“I like how the page has been able to connect people on campus. It’s more than just a gossip confessional,” Frimpong said. “You can organize some really awesome community events through it.”
Garza-Flores said she hopes students will think twice about everything they post to that page.
“Once you put something on social media, it’s very hard to erase,” she said. “Just because it’s anonymous, doesn’t mean it’s completely anonymous.”
The moderators have considered shutting down the page because of the time it has consumed, but they haven’t come to a decisive conclusion just yet.
“Nothing lasts forever,” Frimpong said. “It really depends on what people continue to post. If they continue to post things that people are interested in hearing, then it’ll go into the long-term.”