THE CRAZE OF FACEBOOK CONFESSIONS PAGES. HOW DID IT ALL START?

Facebook Confession

 

If you’ve been out of loop, Facebook (FB) confessions have been all the rage recently.

Previously only a trend among local schools, the fad has now spread beyond with a confessions page created for Singapore Army Forces (SAF) personnel to voice their grievances. The latest is a confessions page created for members of the People’s Action Party (PAP).

Created on 15 February, the PAP Confessions page allows Members of the Parliament (MP) and PAP ministers to spill the beans anonymously. To date, the page has garnered over 5,470 members.

The concept of FB confessions involves users creating a page and hoping that it attracts confessional postings from their target audience and reposting them for everyone on FB to see.

Under ideal circumstances, a university confessions page will have postings from its students and teachers. For a page like SAF Confessions, confessions will be elicited from its personnel, regardless of rank, private or colonel. 

As everyone from the page’s administrators and its submissions are anonymous, it is principally up to the reader to judge whether the posted content is real or made up as it could be from anyone, not necessarily from its target audience.

HOW IT STARTED

While examples of the social media trend can be found operating as early as September 2012, the phenomenon started spreading like wildfire earlier this year in January. Now, confessions pages for almost every major university in the world can now be found online.

While the majority of content posted has been largely innocent with students revealing their crushes or relationships, problems they're having at school or with other people/roommates, some confessions have been causing problems for the authorities.

Borah High School in the United States recently requested the FB page to be shut down after serious confessions were posted on the page, reported Oregon Live news.

According to the news article, one confession read: “I slept with one of the male teachers when I went there four years ago. He's still one of everybody's favourites.”

Another read: “I snuck a glock (submachine gun) into school for a whole day just to see if I'd make it, (it) ended up being the most exciting day of my life.”

Other FB pages in the United States including Tucson and Rincon High School confessions pages have also been shut down due to overly graphic and hurtful posts.

IT SPREADS TO SINGAPORE

Locally, the phenomenon appeared to have started off with a confessions page for National University of Singapore (NUS) students. Since its creation on 26 January, the page has garnered 16,727 “likes”.

One of its latest posts read: “Four of us once climbed the computer science building and sat next to the satellite dish, chatting for over an hour.”

Another post said: “To the car owner of the black Toyota SUV parked at Carpark 15, whose key has a white mickey mouse key ring: Please remember to lock up and take your keys next time. It is dangerous to leave it unlocked and the key left at the door. I have plugged the key into the ignition to make it less conspicuous, hope you find it. Love, Kind soul.”

Confessions pages for other local universities quickly followed a week later, garnering between 4,000 and 10,000 FB likes. Now there is even a confessions page for secondary school students from Raffles Institution and Raffles Girls School.

However, if you expect juicy details of secret affairs or a spill-the-beans expose on teachers, prepare to be disappointed as the local content has not been salacious so far.

The SAF Confession page goes one step further to filter content stating that “confidential or racially, religiously (and) politically insensitive content will not be tolerated”.

From local tertiary institutions, the phenomenon has jumped to FB confessions for SAF personnel and for members of the PAP too.

The most read post on the PAP confessions page to date is a “letter” by a “Grassroots Leader” to the Singapore Prime Minister.

As of this report, the lengthy letter has been shared over 9,803 times and 13,790 people have “like”-ed the post. FB users who have commented on the post have mixed feelings about the authenticity of the content.

Part of the post read: “After the GE (General Elections) 2011 elections, the PAP (was) dealt a big blow with the unprecedented loss of a GRC (Group Representation Constituency). You did a post-mortem with us, and with your MPs. One of the message(s) we tried to send you then was: You (the PAP leadership) just didn’t listen to us. We told you there were many problems on the ground, you did not listen. After the GE, you said PAP will change.”

The letter from a "Grassroots Leader" to the PM has received much attention on the PAP Confessions Page (Photo: PAP Confessions FB Page)

INSTITUTIONS RESPOND

When inSing contacted local universities for official statements, all have stated that they are aware of the existence of such pages, but that they do not endorse the content. Some have encouraged students to be responsible in their postings.

The Ministry of Defence in addition said that, “Appropriate actions will be taken if operational security rules are contravened.”

While it is hard to pinpoint the origins of internet trends, the idea of anonymous student confessions is not a new one since the best-selling novel series, ‘Gossip Girl’, was first published in 2002.

In the book, students from a fictional Upper East Side New York City school send in their secrets to the ‘Gossip Girl’ internet blog, which reposts their secrets for all to see.

The book became a hit television series in 2007, ending its run after six seasons in December 2012. It coincided with the creation of a flurry of college-based FB confessions pages in early 2013.

Irene Lee

*Article first appeared on InSing.com