Anonymous social media page generates rumors

‘Dirty Laundry’ Instagram account is now deleted

Written By Mitchell Drake, Staff Writer

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Last Monday, Feb. 11, an email was sent to members of the Uno League with the subject “RED ALERT.” In the email, Bryan Partika, Pioneer Ambassador and President of the Uno League expressed the dangers of the PPU Dirty Laundry Instagram page and urged members of the league to stay away from it and contact appropriate faculty if affected by it.

Partika described Dirty Laundry as a harmful page that tries to expose embarrassing truths, spread rumors or share private pictures of students. While the page does not explicitly state that it is trying to do such things, Partika described a few menacing posts from the page.

The first post by Dirty Laundry was a poll that prompted followers to choose from two students and whose nudes they would like to see. Another post touted the page’s power over its followers, commenting on how much “dirty laundry” the page has on its followers.

Not only did Partika personally know the two people chosen for the nude poll post, he also engaged in talks with other Pioneer Ambassadors and the Title IX Coordinator about the subject.

“I think there’s good and bad with this,” Partika said. “It’s all fun and games at first, but as soon as one person gets uncomfortable, we have to shut it down.”

Partika praised other student-run pages and clubs for taking a stand against the Dirty Laundry page, stating the importance of using one’s position to protect other students.

Social Media Manager Felicia McKinney states that the page has been brought to the attention of her department, along with Title IX Director Vanessa Love. Both have already reported multiple cases and complaints from students involving damages caused by the page.

“The appropriate people already know about the page,” McKinney said.

McKinney explained that gossip pages are created for a number of reasons: hate, anger, revenge or simply wanting power via having blackmail on other students.

Love said that her department has worked with Mckinney and Dean of Student Life Michael Gieske on identifying and monitoring the ongoing incidents with the page and commends the students that have come forward about their experiences.

McKinney claimed that the current use of the page is reminiscent of the previous effects of the Yik Yak app. Yik Yak, which McKinney described as an “anonymous Twitter,” had allowed a way for students to anonymously post death threats towards professors, hate speech and harassment across college campuses. After becoming infamous for its role in gossip spreading and a bomb threat that prompted F.B.I. investigation, the app shut down in 2017.

“The problem is, being anonymous brings out the worst in people,” McKinney said.

Comparing the current situation, the Dirty Laundry page has not yet escalated to the level of mayhem caused by Yik Yak, according to McKinney.

Love pointed out that the actions of the Dirty Laundry page have already violated Title IX Policy of the Prohibition of Sexual Misconduct, Relationship Violence and Stalking.

According the policy, the page has performed an act of sexual exploitation. The policy defined sexual exploitation as “electronically recording, photographing or transmitting intimate or sexual utterances, sounds or images without the knowledge and consent of all parties.

McKinney says that once a law prohibiting revenge pornography or sexual harassment has been broken, the Point Park Police has the ability to trace the IP address of the page to find the page’s user, if the situation becomes too drastic.

McKinney added that her department does not have the ability to manually take down a gossip page, but can only report when a page violates the social media platform’s terms of service, which rarely happens.

Love maintained that gossip pages and their escalation to the point of faculty intervention exist on a continuum, where they tow the line between in-jokes and harmful content.

“We need to make sure we are not supporting this, we need to be changing the culture around how students interact with gossip pages like this,” Love said.

Love wants to remind students that they could report sexual misconduct or harassment cases anonymously to her department’s email or use the TIP 4-1-1 service.

“There’s a moment when words are words, tweets are tweets, but there becomes a point where actions are stronger,” Partika said. “Actions speak volumes.”

As of publication, this account has been deleted.

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