Under the veil of anonymity

Social media pages such as Butler Confessions are becoming increasingly popular among Butler University students.

The Butler Confessions Facebook page has 737 likes as of press time, and the @ButlerConfessio Twitter page has 1,291 followers.

The pages essentially allow anyone to send in “confessions” to a surveymonkey.com questionnaire.  The confessions are then posted anonymously on the page.

Posts range from confessions of sexual experiences, or lack thereof, bodily functions and crushes on Butler students.

The creator of the Butler Confessions pages agreed to comment for the story via Facebook message but asked to remain anonymous.

The creator of the pages said inspiration for them came from those created at other universities.

“After Butler Confessions was created,” creator said, “there were many ‘confessions’ about crushes and admirers, so BU Secret Admirers was created.”

Michael Kaltenmark Butler’s director of web marketing communications, said even the very outrageous confessions on the page are not necessarily against university policy.

“The social media guidelines are intended for students, faculty and staff to know how to properly represent the university,” Kaltenmark said. “However, we understand that people have personal accounts and they have a right to free speech and to be their own person.”

Kaltenmark said, to his knowledge, only a few social media accounts or pages have ever been found in violation of the social media conduct guidelines to the extent that action was taken.

“We try to make sure that what is posted on social media is not affecting the marketing and image of Butler University,” Kaltenmark said. “It’s a great opportunity to reach out to people, not to be inappropriate.”

In the cases of Butler Confessions and BU Secret Admirer, both Twitter and Facebook pages state “this is not affiliated with Butler University.”

Incoming freshmen have begun following the pages.

On April 4, 2013, Butler Confessions posted “I’m going to be an incoming freshman this fall, and all you confessors make me quite excited for the years to come.”

Students from other schools also look at the pages. Multiple confessions have been posted about not going to Butler and “trolling” the site.

One post said, “My boyfriend is addicted to Butler Confessions. He doesn’t even go here.”

Butler junior Alex Curtis said he checks the Butler Confessions and Secret Admirer pages every few days but sees a lot of the pages’ content on his news feed daily.

“I think it’s just college students having harmless fun,” Curtis said. “Since it’s anonymous, people can post a confession without worrying about people finding out or worrying about who it is. But then some of them can get kind of gross.”

Curtis said he doesn’t believe all of the posts are completely truthful.

“I definitely think that a lot of the posts are made up,” Curtis said. “But there’s always a chance that the outrageous ones could be true, and that adds to the excitement of it all.”

Kaltenmark said parody accounts and confessional accounts are rapidly changing enough that they don’t pose much of a threat.

“It’s almost a flavor-of-the-month kind of thing,” Kaltenmark said. “If we see that the number of followers is low or decreasing, we don’t really worry too much.”

Kaltenmark said parody accounts are okay as long as they are not trying to mimic the university or its officials.

“The biggest thing is to make sure that these parodies are not impersonating the university by using trademarks, certain names or official pictures,” Kaltenmark said.

Kaltenmark said many times he and other university officials try to find the creators of these accounts.

“We keep a closer eye on these pages than most students would think,” Kaltenmark said. “We generally try to track down the creators of these sites and pages. We have definitely done our homework.”

When asked if he knows who the creator of Butler Confessions is, Kaltenmark declined to comment.

The creator of the page insisted that his or her identity was “unknown to all.”

Curtis said he believes the university administration currently serves as some kind of filter for what is posted on the Butler Confessions page.

When asked if the university censored any of the material on the pages, the creator said “the page is not affiliated with Butler University.”

The creator admitted to censoring some material submitted to the page.

“Confessions that refer negatively to a Greek house are not posted in order to protect them from getting in trouble,” the creator said. “Plus, many Greeks get upset about posts. Confessions that are directed negatively to a specific individual are also not posted. There are so many submissions that all cannot be posted, so the ones that suck aren’t posted. “

“I think the administration has a responsibility to monitor what’s on these sites to make sure they don’t get out of hand,” Curtis said. “Upperclassmen probably remember College ACB and how that was a nightmare, but Butler Confessions seems pretty harmless.”

Kaltenmark said he believes any focused Butler students wouldn’t risk participating in any activity on the pages.

“We think that if students truly believe in The Butler Way, they would decide not to participate in these kinds of activities,” Kaltenmark said. “We would ask for people to denounce students who may be acting inappropriate on social media sites.”

The creator said the pages have a positive effect on Butler students and can be helpful to those in need.

“The stuff is happening anyway,” the creator said. “Confessions just puts it in writing. It also helps people with issues get help and find support.”

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