President Clark speaks about BYU-I Secrets page

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Story by Tamara Rawson & Josh Arnett

President Kim B. Clark spoke about the Facebook page “BYU-I Secrets,” saying the anonymous posting of confessions and complaints goes against key principles of the gospel. The question was one of several he responded to during the President’s Q & A on March 14.

According to the page’s description, BYU-I Secrets’ purpose is to give people a way to anonymously voice opinions “about Idaho.”

People have used the site to share personal habits, ask questions and criticize university and city leaders without having their names attached to the “confession.”

“Send your secrets in as messages, and we will post them anonymously to the wall for you,” according to BYU-I Secrets. “Nothing illegal, just what you really feel but don’t feel safe saying out loud.”

President Clark said the feeling of anonymity causes people to act differently than they would otherwise.

“You’re basically saying, ‘I am not actually myself.’ You begin to deny your own identity,” President Clark said. “It’s contrary to the Lord’s plan.”

While many students have used the page to complain about roommates and other students or to share stories, some have used it to confess actions that violate BYU-Idaho’s Honor Code and the doctrine of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

President Clark said confessing sins anonymously and publicly distances people from God.

“An important part of repentance is confession, and so to use that sacred activity in public in an inappropriate way is a travesty of great significance,” President Clark said.

President Clark said students should know they’re never truly anonymous.

“First of all, the people running the site know who you are. Second, Facebook knows who you are,” President Clark said. “If you’re on a site like this and you act in such a way or claim certain things happened that are illegal, that becomes subject to discovery processes by law enforcement.”

President Clark also said no one is anonymous to the Lord.

“He knows what you’re doing,” President Clark said. “It’s just a really, really bad idea.”

President Clark said a separate and smaller issue with the page is its use of BYU-I’s trademark by using its name. He said the university will pursue appropriate action to address any trademark violation.

Some said they thought this meant the university planned to take legal action against the page. Merv Brown, the university communications director, said this is not the case.

“The fact that these sites use the name BYU-I or BYU-Idaho is the concern,” Brown said. “The university cares about its students. It also cares about its trademarks and its good name, so we would just want to protect the name and trademark of the university.”

The page’s creator has changed the page’s “about” section to explain that “BYU-I Secrets” stands for “Bring Your Unusual Idaho Secrets.” The page’s name has not been changed.

BYU-I Secrets is not the only page that uses the university’s name and asks people to post confessions anonymously.

There are at least two similar Facebook pages that use BYU-Idaho’s name and at least one for BYU.

Other universities across the country have similar pages that are based on “secrets” and “confessions.”

There are also pages for students who oppose the “BYU-I Secrets” page and other pages like it.

 

4 Responses

  1. Jacob Smith says:

    I disagree with President Clark. “The anonymous posting of confessions and complaints goes against key principles of the gospel.” The school encourages anonymous complaints through teacher evaluations. It allows the students to speak open and honest without fear of retaliation. In effect anonymity brings out truth that would otherwise not be shared. The honor office uses anonymity to report offenders, so do the police. Businesses use anonymity in surveys to bring out truth of their flaws. Anonymity can be a powerful tool. I agree that confessions on a Facebook page are awkward and inappropriate, but complaints definitely have a place.

  2. Daniel Ard says:

    The thing about BYU-I secrets page is that your messages are not “anonymous”. In their about section it says, “everything is truely anonymous we dont know who send the messages or anything only if you message on the wall/post is then your name on the page..” Besides the fact that their English is terrible, that is completely FALSE. Not possible!

    If you have ever worked with Facebook Pages you will know that when someone sends you a message their information comes through as well. You know exactly who they are and here is an example of what I mean http://brittanybotti.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/admin-messages.png … Look at the top left were it says messages. Is it anonymous? Nope. That is the way it looks on every admin panel. I can see exactly who sent the message.

    And lastly, the people who run that page for all we know could be pedophiles, sex traffickers, or murderers. Am I being melodramatic? Perhaps a little, but the amount of incidents that occur from these people using the internet to find their victims each year is growing.

    So to sum it up. They are not anonymous “confessions”. They know who you are when you post something. In short, I quote Forrest Gump: “STUPID IS AS STUPID DOES.”

  3. cameronmacdonald says:

    Jacob, I agree with you to a point. There are things that need to be done anonymously in order to be effective. Teacher evaluations and police reports need to be anonymous, but the difference is in the purpose of the item in question. The purpose of a teacher evaluation or business survey should be to help the teacher or business be better. Honor office and police reports are anonymous in order to help correct something that needs to be fixed. The purpose of the BYU-I Secrets page is neither of these. Its purpose is to allow people a “faceless” forum in which they can post their activities that violate the law and the Honor Code. There is little posted there with the purpose of helping something be better.

  4. Personally I don’t care much about that website, but I do think it was poor planning to make an article about that site front page material. Its basically free PR for the byui secrets page because I am willing to bet that most people who read that article will go on the site to see what its all about. Poor planning Scroll

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