Georgetown Confessions jolted the Hilltop upon its inception last spring, dragging volatile issues like race, sex and class to the forefront of student awareness. Many participated, and the initial outrage soon simmered as Confessions became a mainstay in campus culture.
More recently, the anonymous Facebook page returned to the spotlight when the Department of Public Safety investigated a death threat aimed at a Georgetown student through Confessions. The administrator of the page soon posted an apology, citing an oversight in filtering, and posting halted for several weeks.
Recently, however, posts have resumed as if nothing ever happened — a remarkable act of irresponsibility by the administrator. Going forward, the host must filter all content that specifically targets individuals. If not, students should reconsider their patronage of the page.
There is certainly a case to be made for the value of anonymous speech platforms, but abuse of such a platform, with the recent death threat as an extreme example, should be moderated. By serving as a forum for violent and hateful sentiments behind a screen of anonymity, confessions pages around the country provide an avenue to intimidate, humiliate or alienate innocent members of the community. For this reason, Georgetown Confessions ought to self-regulate, refusing to post not only death threats but also any attack on an individual.
While neither the subjects of posts nor the university hold the power to restrict threatening speech in this case, our community as a whole should recognize that such confession pages survive solely by virtue of their popularity. Georgetown students, as the consumers of the Confessions product, hold serious sway over its content. By refusing to visit the page when its administrator posts vitriolic personal sentiments, the community can assert its distaste for such activity.
License to free speech does not absolve personal responsibility for its consequences. Those who visit Georgetown Confessions bear a responsibility to withhold their participation when content goes against their conscience.