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As a child, I remember experiencing continuous message relays through what was called the telephone game. I recall sitting in a circle, anticipating that moment to relay the message, reminding myself over and over that it was imperative to relay the message word for word. Finally, the last person would repeat the message to the group, resulting in a united dumbfounded, jaw-dropping remark: "That's not what I said!"
The lesson learned? The truth can often be distorted when passed from one individual to the next. Distorted truths or messages out of context happen in spades across the Web, and particularly on a site called JuicyCampus.com.
JuicyCampus.com, which is owned by Nevada-based Lime Blue, is a platform for users to bring all things "juicy" to the table, in the form of anonymous posts. It was created and funded by Matt Ivster, a Duke graduate. Its simple mission, according to its Web site, is to enable "online anonymous free speech on college campuses." Though JuicyCampus.com cannot and will not judge the merit of the content posted by its users, the backbone of their business relies on interesting and "juicy" content, which it hopes will attract a fan and user base.
And, it appears it's doing just that.
Since its initial launch last fall, JuicyCampus.com has been the center of controversy. Although only attracting roughly 200,000 unique visitors and 400,000 page views this past month, according to Quancast, the site has received massive media attention for its detrimental and hateful posts. Even 20/20 covered the controversy behind this trivial website recently, stating Matt Ivster is banking roughly $25,000 a month for his endeavors.
The site has evolved into a platform for college students to anonymously show their disdain and bitterly truthful perceptions of their peers. The topics range from the hottest girl on campus to specifically exerting the sexual orientations of their classmates.
The posts are anonymous, while the subjects, unfortunately or fortunately, are pretty visible. And, typically, they're the targets of malicious butchery. Not all posts consists of defamatory and slanderous content, however, though this site has definitely been the epicenter of tumult.
Controversy can be a catalyst to draw attention to the site, generating massive amounts of visitors; this seems to be the case with Juicycampus.
Controversy - the good and the bad
But ironically, the controversy likely brought unsolicited attention to the founder. Recently the site has been subject to fraud investigation by the New Jersey and Connecticut Attorney general for violating the state's Consumer Fraud Act by suggesting that it doesn't allow offensive material, but not enforcing that policy.
Many sites, including JuicyCampus.com, have protection under section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA 230), which protects providers and users of interactive computer services from liability for the statements of third parties. JuicyCampus.com firmly stands behind this protection and is willing to cooperate with all legal matters that arise knowing this law removes most, if not all aspects of liability.
This legal battle will certainly take time to be resolved. So for now, I suggest that as we grab our popcorn to see how this legal tussle plays out, let's remind ourselves that nothing positive comes from the butchering and defamation of our fellow classmates, or anyone for that matter. The telephone game should have taught us the lesson of how the truth can be distorted through gossip, and particularly gossip out of context.
Unfortunately, the content that made JuicyCampus.com - though it never intended to be a platform for hate - may be the very content that brings them down.
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