(CBS) – As if we didn’t have enough to worry about in this wired modern society. After getting trapped in a chain of links, I stumbled upon a college site that literally caused my jaw to drop.
Blipdar launched in June of 2011 after a change of name and ownership in January. Originally called College Anonymous Confession Board (ACB), the site launched in 2008 and provided a forum for college students to post anonymously about any topic they wish. More often than not, topics are of other students.
After reading a few threads in the Relationships and Love area, I was flabbergasted. And I’m not easily shocked. The topic ranged from wildly inappropriate to downright rude. Students, who were accused of being promiscuous, also had their identity posted. Some were rumored to be serial date rapists or having STDs. Fear!
Nothing is sacred
Many of these allegations had full names, phone numbers and Facebook profiles to identify the person in question. Some names were redacted, but most were not. We can only speculate that the moderators received earnest requests from concerned parties.
The implications of sites like this can be best demonstrated with a plea for help from a helpless parent. It’s the worst form of cyberbullying we’ve ever seen.
I discovered a post on an unrelated help forum from a parent asking how to remove their daughter’s name from a Google search result, which lead to a slanderous post on Blipdar. Yikes!
Yes, Blipdar’s posts are indexed by Google and their SEO ranking is high. When I ran a search of a student that was being slandered badly on the site, Blipdar’s results were second only to YouTube, but above Twitter.
Blipdar’s predecessor, College ACB, stirred up controversy on college campuses with countless students threatening lawsuits. The site was operated by Peter Frank from February of 2009 to January of 2011, before selling his share to an undisclosed buyer. FYI, the domain’s new owners have a proxy to protect their identity. Figures.
The site’s mission statement says they champion anonymity because “everyone has something that they’re afraid to say out loud.” Speaking of the collective community, Blipdar states, “to censor words is to censor ideas.”
While Blipdar doesn’t have the immense popularity of College ACB – Frank claimed to have garnered 900,000 page views in a day – it’s damaging nonetheless. The most discouraging aspect to this story is that these bulletin boards have the potential for honest engagement.
How can you protect yourself?
If you find your identity or phone number posted on these sites, email Blipdar directly and ask them to pull down your information.
Unfortunately in the the case of Blipdar, they claim to continuously dump IP addresses, so that they do not store any information. Therefor, in theory, they would not be able to identify the accused poster.
I spoke with retired FBI special agent Jeff Lanza on how a person could fight anonymous slander. Aside from contacting the person or site directly, you could hire a reputation defender or beat them at their own game. Creating social media profiles, blogs and websites with good content associated with your name is a way to beat the offending site at their own game.
I reached out to Blipdar, but have yet to get a response.
The cautionary tale here is that we’ve definitely entered an age where Googling yourself is not a vanity move, it’s a matter of defending your reputation.