‘Burn Book’ Twitter account destructive, not funny

Most Twitter accounts created based on university topics are humorous such as Club Torreyson, Unofficial UCA Probz and Bear Crush UCA, but another Twitter handle that recently started posting is no laughing matter for those caught in the crossfire.

The UCA Burn Book Twitter account is part of a disturbing trend of accounts seemingly intended to entertain and spark debate on the social networking website. As of Sept. 16, the account remains active with 247 followers.

Cyberbullying is an unfortunate, appalling trend in online media today, allowing anyone to hide their true selves for the sake of venting or ranting about a person online in anonymity. It can lead to self-harm or even suicide, therefore, it is vital to act against it in any way possible.

The Burn Book account, based on the “Mean Girls” film that includes a scene where high school secrets are written in a book, allows Twitter users who are UCA students to submit posts about a general group or even a specific person that contain slurs, generalizations and lies.

While the account is not directly linked to UCA or its administration, it paints a negative picture of the university.

The unidentified Twitter handle user began posting tweets and quotes from submissions Sept. 5, with a tweet saying “Don’t worry – nothing too offensive will be posted… All in good fun, ladies and gents.” That couldn’t be farther from the truth, evident through derogatory terms toward minority groups and potentially libelous statements toward organizations such as the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity. “@UCASigEp is nothing but a bunch of rapists,” a Sept. 11 post reads.

A Sept. 12 tweet reads: “[Name retracted] is such a f****t! He’s gayer then a three dollar bill!”

Not only is the account childish and degrading, it could be punishable if the person’s identity is revealed.

Bullying is a serious matter and should not be taken lightly. Words used often contain harsh, untrue characterizations that serve no purpose other than to demean.

It’s alarming that people feel compelled to anonymously send in these statements.

It shows a tendency for cowardice in the form of obscurity. A person who feels compelled to post something damaging about someone online should be willing to face the consequences of bashing others who do not deserve that treatment.

I may not know the true motives of the person behind the Twitter handle. I can, however, view it as an embarrassment for someone to create such an account, especially when there are people who condone its behavior.

Lighthearted fun is certainly not a problem. Publically humiliating or belittling a person or groups of people is a completely different story.

The university shouldn’t be held responsible in any way for the account. It is our job as individuals to make sure the cyber world is free of viciousness and cruelty at the expense of a few laughs or retweets.

As students and observers of cyberbullying, we need to take action in any way we can, even when we feel our voice doesn’t matter. It does. Report negative tweets and block accounts who attempt to harass you. This is a universal message that applies to any website.

I don’t believe the account will be up for much longer. It is an obvious violation of Twitter’s terms of service, so it’s only a matter of time before enough complaints lead to its well-needed demise.

Police Report: March 12-13

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