@mooseconfession is a private Twitter account which users can request to follow. Followers can submit tweets through the website Ask.fm and have them posted anonymously. This account raises the question of how social media impacts community, for better or for worse.
@mooseconfession’s profile explains the account, saying, “MU the confession page is back! And its better than ever, your questions are a 100% anonymous. You ask your questions through Ask.fm Where mooses are · Ask.fm/TruthatMU.”
@mooseconfession was started after a previous account @MUconfessions was deactivated.
This is not the first twitter account created about Malone.
In November 2011 @maloneproblems was created and as the account’s profile said it was “sharing the collective experience of the average Malone student.” Other social media groups include the Facebook group Overheard at Malone and the twitter accounts @malonesquirrels and @malones_batman.
Unique to @mooseconfession is its anonymity, allowing students to speak freely without having their name attached to their words.
Tweets from this account range from people admitting things that they have done, such as streaking across campus, to what they have seen other students do, to calling out specific students, groups and sports teams.
Due to the nature of the tweets from this account, which constitute cyberbullying, actual tweets have not been printed.
Social Media in Community
Social media is a part of our society. It’s how people interact with one another and it impacts community.
Matt Shoup, a sophomore communication arts major, said, “I would say social media can [create community] with certain groups. I think it depends on the aspect that you take on social media. I think that it needs to be positive and it needs to be more informative rather than an ongoing conversation.”
Shoup said administration and staff do a good job using Facebook to publicize upcoming events and let members of the Malone community know what is happening on campus.
DeVol Hall resident director and assistant director of student conduct and leadership development Rhett Edwards cautions how community is defined and how social media impacts it.
“It can be somewhat subjective—how people define community or the community that they are in,” Edwards said. “What are those common factors [that community shares]? For example, some people find it with their athletic team or area of study or you’re in the same school district in your local town or city.
“In that sense then, on a positive end I think sometimes social media can be used as a valuable resource or tool that is just another way of creating a form of connection or form of communication that can be very helpful.”
However, many things which can be good also have the capability to be misused.
“With any tool or resource that can be very effective and helpful in its use, those things can also be detrimental in how they are used,” Edwards said. “We can kind of hide behind it [social media] because we’re afraid of actually life-to-life, person-to-person, face-to-face community and interaction. Because it’s very vulnerable to look someone in the eyes, but it’s not very vulnerable to star a tweet or heart a picture or like a post.”
Senior exercise science major Jordan McKelley said, “It [social media] can [build community], I think it tears down community more than it helps build it up.”
McKelley and Shoup both followed @mooseconfession but then stopped following the account.
“I followed it [@mooseconfession] and at first I found it actually kind of funny,” Shoup said. “But quickly I found out that it was very negative and very—almost catty, I use the word catty a lot [when describing @mooseconfession] in the sense that people have the ability to anonymously post something which was really tearing people down.”
McKelley said the account is being used to “basically make fun of people; that’s the only reason it’s used. There’s really no other way it’s used. People aren’t really trying to build community with it, not at all.”
Edwards said, “When you are using this medium [social media] to criticize people and you lack the courage, the confidence, the self respect to even say something to another person to their face, so you are going to use a social media anonymously to say, ‘you are a, b and c and you are disrespectful and I don’t like you’—there is a problem with that.”
Senior early childhood education major Trisha Landis said, “@mooseconfession has potential to hurt people in the community and I don’t think those tweeting in the moment realize it.”
The resident life office is aware of the account and they are looking into what can be done.
Edwards said social media use and issues associated with its use amongst students can get complicated very quickly.
“When you start thinking and talking about jurisdiction for things [social media], or you know, ‘where are those lines?’ I will admit it’s complicated sometimes,” Edwards said. “It’s not as cut and dry as we might like it to be.”
The way social media changes how students interact and how information is spread is relatively new. The resident life staff is researching how best to handle it by looking into how other universities have dealt with similar situations.
Edwards said, “We don’t police social media in our department; we’re not out there doing that.”
Although resident life doesn’t police social media, if students post something online and it is in direct violation of the community agreement and student handbook and it is brought to resident life’s attention, they will address it.
Currently resident life is researching how other colleges have handled similar situations. Resident life has appointed Haviland Hall resident director Ryan Palmer to lead this research and see what the best response is. They have also talked with Adam Klemann, technology services coordinator, about what can be done.
Read writer Hannah Finley’s behind-the-story blog here.