It’s been roughly two years since the anonymous social media platform Herrd first graced the screens of students across campus. Certainly, the app has been entertaining, inspiring campus-wide pizza parties, and giving tall girls a well-deserved confidence boost. Many of the best Boston College inside jokes spawned on Herrd, including the omniscient Eye Bus and CSOM’s in-depth Ethics Initiative. It’s also been a source of information regarding class recommendations and navigating the housing process. More recently, though, Herrd has felt like a dive into the darkest corners of BC. Users have started to abuse the anonymity offered by the app, resulting in what feels like a steady increase in negative or hateful posts.
Anonymity can, of course, also be a useful tool. Another recent Herrd storm surrounded a student who posted about their experience with sexual assault at BC. They were able to evade the regulations around posting full names by typing their message out on the Notes app, then posting a screenshot of the paragraph. The post generated controversy across Herrd, with a slew of posts both in support of and against the poster. Many students came to the defense of the accused assaulter, some claiming to know him and his character. All of these posts occurred behind the mask of anonymous accounts, including the poster. I believe this survivor’s story and can see the value of being able to post it anonymously, as it is their story and they can choose how they share it. In addition, I believe that posts like this one could help inspire victims to come forward with their own stories. However, it is difficult to use instances like these to defend the app’s anonymity rules when there are so many hateful posts.