Due to student concerns, some Augustana Student Association representatives sent a message to the administrator of the Augustana Confess (@Augiecon) Twitter page asking that the content be tamed.
Shortly after the message from ASA, the page went dormant, leading some to question ASA’s role in regulating student groups online.
“It gets to be a bit of a slippery slope because of First Amendment rights of free speech, but there are certainty not implications that are meant to regulate organizations and quell the right to free speech,” dean of students Jim Bies said.
Until it went dormant, @Augiecon let students freely tweet or post photos without an administrator filtering the page. The page attracted over 700 followers since an anonymous user created it last fall.
ASA vice president Krista Youngberg said the page had “gotten out of hand and [was] not managed well.”
ASA president Matt Anderson said that, while the page has positive and negative tweets, people have a tendency to focus on the negative. When it comes to peers using media in harmful ways, “it doesn’t matter how many people it’s hurting.”
“Even hurting one person is not worth it,” he said.
Not everyone is pleased about the page going dormant.
“I think it was a good way for students to jokingly voice their concerns,” freshman Zach Peterson said, “Some of the confessions may have been a little rude, but as long as no names were mentioned, I think it was a good way for students to say things they wouldn’t normally be able to say.”
But when it comes to online negativity, Bies said, “If the communication and words presented do harm and are viewed as hurtful, then I think it’s up to all of us to confront them and find out what’s happening.”
So what is the best way to handle online negativity? According to Bies, the tried-and-true response is to not give it any attention. Like many things, it has a shelf life, he said.
In the end, Anderson said the Twitter page shows how people need to be more educated about what they say.