Though anonymous gossip websites are nothing new to Northwestern, posts are filling the university’s forum on the Collegiate Anonymous Communication Board.
Collegiate ACB launched in March 2012 “for college students throughout the country to discuss anything,” according to the website’s home page. The website is similar to the now-closed College Anonymous Confession Board. For the past month, Collegiate ACB has received an average of 10,000 visitors a day, wrote Kirk Henf, the website’s co-owner and co-administrator, in an email to The Daily. In the Northwestern forum, comments were made on 12 different threads Monday alone.
“We expect to see the numbers increase,” wrote Henf, explaining that the site will likely get more traffic as students settle into the school year and freshmen find it.
Henf said the website could be used to discuss “popular controversial topics” ranging from stances on politics and religion to fraternity and sorority life.
“The mission or purpose of Collegiate ACB is primarily to provide students with a location to anonymously discuss issues they wouldn’t feel comfortable talking about elsewhere,” Henf wrote.
Although the topics on the NU forum are often controversial, the board has yet to be used for political discussion. Threads titled “Fraternity Rankings.” and “rich and famous” have received the most posts.
“It seemed kind of catty but also not unlike what people talk about anyways,” said Weinberg sophomore Jenna Stoehr, who has visited the website. “I think that because it is written down it makes it seem more official than word of mouth.”
Communication sophomore Jules Cantor was mentioned in a thread Aug. 19 called “Frattiest guy on campus?” Cantor said he initially thought the post was “hilarious” and thought it was likely posted by one of his fraternity brothers.
“If this had been something about my character or my actions, I would not have appreciated it,” Cantor said. “(Collegiate ACB) encourages bad mouthing and unpleasant conversation.”
Cantor expressed concern that students can not control negative content posted about them on Collegiate ACB. However, Henf said the site allows users to report inappropriate or derogatory posts directly from the website. Still, to request a post’s removal in the case of defamation, a user must email [email protected], he explained.
“I guess as a Northwestern community we could decide not to use it,” Cantor said of the site. “Or we could use it only as an information site for constructive things, what dorms, what classes, rather than using it as a gossip website.”
Anonymous gossip about NU has been prevalent on the Web before. JuicyCampus and College ACB were both forums where students could make anonymous posts, but both websites were shut down. Weinberg junior Carla Berkowitz remembered the prevelance of College ACB during her freshman year.
“There was nothing productive on that site,” Berkowitz said. “It was the perfect environment for cyber bullying.”