A jilted girlfriend, a crush-worthy professor, an offer of money for a completed assignment and a detailed description of someone’s spring break exploits. What could these things possibly have in common? They were all anonymous declarations posted on the CSU-Pueblo Confessions Facebook page.
A number of recent complaints and time constraints have forced the administrator, a female student who remains anonymous, to pull the plug on the page.
“It was very sad for me to see it go. I felt like I was losing a piece of me. I put so much work into this page, and I don’t think people really understood how much upkeep this page took,” she said.
“I also chose to end it because completely unoffending posts were being reported, and it would shut down all my access to Facebook. This happened over and over in a matter of a couple days.”
She started the page in Feb. 2013, with some inspiration from the University of Colorado in Boulder. CU Boulder, like many other large universities, has an anonymous confessions Facebook page. She was intrigued by the idea and decided to start a page for CSU-Pueblo.
The large schools participate in a wider network called college-confessions.com. The administrator of that site contacted CSU-Pueblo Confessions and offered to help moderate the new page.
“Many large schools do their confessions pages through this site,” she explained. “Using their site was much faster and convenient. Students would easily submit their confessions, and then I could go through and batch-approve them.”
“The biggest challenge was the magnitude of confessions I had to go through,” she said. “Both submission sites had to be checked multiple times. I received over 100 confessions a day, and had to read through each and every one. I wanted to keep everything current and post students’ confessions as quickly as possible.”
Over the last year, the Confessions page has seen everything from the explicit and disturbing to the comic and bizarre. Few rules governed postings, allowing nearly every scenario except those that included names, phone numbers or other identifying information.
“I’ve seen funny confessions, sexual conquests, hate confessions, rants, relationship posts and people just simply wanting feedback and advice from their peers,” she said. “I think the most scandalous confessions I have read were ones when people were trying to anonymously tell another individual that their significant other was cheating. I could not post some because they would call out the person by name. I have no way of knowing whether these are fact or fiction, but either way they could have ruined reputations.”
While many saw the confessions page as a place for spilling dirty secrets, others have used it to voice a cry for help.
“I had a few people write in to confess that they were planning suicide. Some were so heartbreaking, because these people would pour their emotions and their pain into a paragraph. It was so difficult to read,” she said. “However, the hardest thing was that all of these confessions are anonymous, so it was very hard to deal with the fact that there was no way to help the person. I wanted more than anything to be able to reach out and comfort them.”
“A while back, I actually posted a heartfelt letter on my page to all of those out there in this position. I wanted to let them know that I was reading their submissions and that I cared. I also wanted others to chime in with comments to show these individuals how many students cared as well. It was amazing to see the community that CSU-Pueblo has. It is so rewarding to see my fellow students come together to help each other and give one another advice.”
Anonymity has been the key to the success of the confessions page. Even though some of the posts were completely outrageous, it was a forum for free expression.
“I know personally, it is so much easier to express myself without the fear of being judged. I think many others could say the same. It’s easier to ask questions without being afraid that others will think they are dumb,” the administrator said. “I really hope others benefited from this page. That was my main goal.”
Although the CSU-Pueblo Confessions page is now officially silent, the administrator would still appreciate feedback on her year at the helm. She also hasn’t overlooked the possibility of opening the page again with another person in the admin role.
“My email is firstname.lastname@example.org if any students have any follow up questions, comments or complaints. I would love to hear feedback. The page is currently unpublished, and I would possibly consider turning the admin permissions over to someone else.”