Imperial secrets, a popular Facebook page on which students could share secrets anonymously, was shut down last week.
The page, which had several thousand followers, has been under scrutiny for a large part of its existence: a meeting of Imperial College Union’s Community and Welfare Board earlier this year had voiced concerns about the material posted and how it was monitored. Racist material and sexist comments had been noted by the Board. Imperial College Union welfare officers and the admins of the page were to meet to discuss these concerns.
Similar pages have also brought close scrutiny: in 2015, a similar page was used to promote a “Jihad themed” orgy resulting in the names of four students – who had bought tickets to the event – to be viewable to all on the page.
Memeperial, the meme page of Imperial College London told Felix: “It’s obviously quite sad that Secrets had shut down. Memeperial aims to provide humour to students, but Secrets gave everyone a voice. We’re not sure about the exact circumstances that led to its demise, but we do know that it will be sorely missed.”
“One student said the page brought ‘banter to the tough life at Imperial’. A new page has already been set up”
Paul Balaji, a final year computing student, described Imperial Secrets as “like a forum”: “Anyone could submit, and if it was not outrageously offensive, it would get posted. Of course it’s had its fair share of controversy: there’d be highly political debates or people bringing out freedom of speech when something offensive gets taken down. This was all part of its charm, in my opinion. It gave more people the chance to weigh in and provide their opinions, contribute to discussions, help others and sometimes just bring some banter to the tough life at Imperial. I hope somebody decides to bring back Secrets as a new page, it’s honestly a great way to take breaks from revision. Oh well, at least we still have Memeperial?”
In the wake of the page being ‘zucced’ (a term used when pages are shut down by Facebook), clone pages have popped up, such as Imperial Secr3ts which has nearly 200 followers. The main precursor of Imperial Secrets, Imperial College secrets – which has more than 6,500 followers – is still up.
Authorities across the world are concerned about such secret pages, as reports of sexual harassment, assault, or suicidal tendencies cannot be followed due to the anonymous nature of these pages. Two high school student pages in Montana, USA have been shut down following demands by the police based on evidence of harassment and sexually explicit content.