Writer Emma Landsburgh explores the dangers of anonymity after a stabbing rumour was circulated by student confession page “Glasknow 2.0”.
A couple of weeks ago, on the popular Facebook page GlasKnow 2.0, a post appeared stating that there had been a stabbing on campus. This rumour spread rapidly throughout the student body, despite the lack of response from the University. This unchecked post caused many to panic and question their safety on campus, only for the rumor to be proven false. I can’t help but wonder, do these anonymous platforms pose a threat?
Topics like these are multifaceted because there are pros and cons to both arguments. Anonymous pages are not news sources. The Facebook bio for GlasKnow 2.0 brands it as the “Number 1 confessions page for Glasgow University”. The reliability and validity of posts from this page are questionable. There’s a responsibility for everyone who uses social media or follows sites like Glasknow 2.0 to take any information with a grain of salt.
Social media has become a news source – especially when finding out about life on campus. Whether it’s Facebook pages, groups, Twitter, Instagram – we all use social media to find out what is going on in the University. Pages like GlasKnow 2.0 share relatable student experiences whilst creating an online student community. Posts often revolve around nights out in the QMU, finding seating in the library, or what societies to join. It collates every funny, awkward, relatable experience from students at Glasgow University.
For these reasons, pages like these are beneficial for giving easier access to the student community by sharing these posts. Pages like these are often just seen as another fun place to vent about student life. However, some issues can arise when it comes to pages where posts can go unregulated and posted in quick succession. However, the disadvantage of these sites becomes obvious when posts, like this instance, slip through.
"Some issues can arise when it comes to pages where posts can go unregulated and posted in quick succession."
The GlasKnow 2.0 anonymous post, which has since been taken down, stated that there had been a student stabbed on campus. The unverified post was regarded as fact. In the past, the University has been criticised for its lack of transparency about crimes on campus, so it is understandable why many people would then take information from a different source, even if it was misinformation.
Due to the popularity of the Facebook page, the post was able to reach far and wide. I remember staring at my Facebook feed and seeing the post and then trying to find any other information about the “event”. Finding nothing, I was left confused and worried about going onto campus, even though there was no information to support the post. People from abroad had even heard about it, showing the widespread impact of these online platforms.
Posts like these hold implications and need to be investigated before posting. Not only to help stop the spread of misinformation but because of the possible wider implications posts like these have. It was a disrespectful, unnecessary post that had gone through the phases before being posted. Multiple people will have seen that post before it was made public on the page. To solve this, the only way is for regulation to be introduced to posts. This would be no threat to freedom of speech as posts like these serve no purpose but to spread misinformation.
"It was a disrespectful, unnecessary post that had gone through the phases before being posted."
I believe this situation reflects what is going on elsewhere on the internet. There are cases similar to the GlasKnow 2.0 post that also end up being false. Yet, this post was far closer to home. Reading anything online has to be read and analysed critically to ensure its reliability and validity, especially when it is from an anonymous confessions page. There has to be recognition of the lack of factual authority pages like these have.
Anonymity is a popular part of the page, to be able to vent your thoughts without having your identity tied to it. Anonymous speech is a comfort and a necessity, but not during circumstances like these where all it does is help spread misinformation. With anonymity comes lack of accountability for posts such as these, so we will never know why someone wanted to spread that rumour. Of course, the page cannot do without its promise of anonymity due to its confession page status. Anonymity gives a sense of safety online regarding freedom of speech. Discourses online differ as it is seen as a free space that has no bounds.
There is a responsibility for a page like GlasKnow 2.0, that has 12,952 likes and 13,927 followers. It is not a small-scale page. With that comes responsibility. So, the only way is for admins to become more active with what is classed as a confession.
Pages like these do have their issues, but they do have their benefits to the student population. More must be done with the running of these pages. Like any other social media we have, we think through what we post. It should be the same for pages like these, both for admins and those who send their “confessions” in.
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