Raunchy and rude confessions from university students (Getty Images)
By Luna Pham
Singapore university students are flocking to certain Facebook pages to anonymously reveal best-kept personal secrets, ranging from mushy love confessions to saucy sexual details.
Not limited to a pastor’s ears, their admissions are open to all to view, share and comment, Facebook-style.
Following a trend led by students in Western schools, unsanctioned “confession” pages on the social media site have risen for Nanyang Technological University, National University of Singapore and Singapore Management University.
Since its launch three days ago, the "NTU Confessions" page has garnered 3,500 likes and more than a thousand "confessions", NUS' attracted almost 6,000 likes within 10 days and SMU’s drew more than 1,000 in one.
Confessions are submitted anonymously through a third-party survey site, and the page administrator, who has access to the content, can then post them.
Anonymity encourages the students to bare their souls in these online confessionals.
One post detailed how the writer fell for his best friend’s girlfriend, while another reads, “I lost my virginity in my dorm room.”
Some school rivalry can also be seen as one user expressed his pride over his school’s content being “more sophisticated” than another’s.
But not all the confession pages were set up by students from the respective universities.
NTU Confessions page’ founders are two NUS computer science students. In a Facebook chat with Yahoo! Singapore on Monday, the pair, who want to be known under the alias of Brian and Richard, said they started the page to “bond NTU community together via humour and real relationships confessions.”
This is why they refrain from content filtering, they said.
“As long it doesn't contain too much expletives and it is relevant to the NTU community, I will post it,” said Richard, despite believing that some of the posts are fabricated.
That practice has come with its own risks.
A previous incarnation of the SMU Confessions page was suddenly closed down after the administrator approved a post likening the bodies of the brothers who died in the Tampines accident last week to “minced pork meat with extra chilli”.
Again through FB chat, the current SMU Confessions administrative team told Yahoo! Singapore said they had no association to their predecessor and that they censor crudity, female degradation and parodies of current affairs to prevent similar incidents from happening.
Given that many posts of an offensive nature do get through, many universities elsewhere in the world have taken a stand against these confessions pages.
Last week, Boise State University’s confessions site was taken down after just five days, according to the school’s newspaper. The US university’s communication department chair and professor of media law heeded warnings about possible libelous suits against the pages should the content be false. Swansea University in Wales warned last month that irresponsible posting on these sites may damage future employment prospects.
In the case of the Singapore versions, such concerns have also been sent in as confessions, and the page administrators are taking notice.
Initially unwilling, Richard and Bryan are now surveying the visitors of their site to establish guidelines for confession filtering.
“There is definitely fear of content mismanagement,” said Brian. “All I can say is that we hope the readers will read it with discretion.”
Meanwhile, Yahoo! Singapore has asked the state universities for their views on the confessions pages. One of them has since responded.
“We are aware of the existence of the NUS Confessions Facebook page, which is not an official page of the university. We do not endorse the page concerned, nor the comments posted," an NUS spokesperson said.
As with all public webpages, however, online users are free to post, comment and share opinions, the spokesperson noted.