I’m almost always saddened by news of businesses being forced to close because of the economy, but I’m glad to see the apparent demise of JuicyCampus.com.
The site, according to a blog post from its founder Matt Ivester, is shutting down because “in these historically difficult economic times, online ad revenue has plummeted and venture capital funding has dissolved.”
I’m not shedding any tears for Mr. Ivester. What he refers to as “lighthearted gossip of college life” was, in many situations, vicious innuendos, hateful messages, and downright lies. In covering the site for CBSNews.com, I saw postings that went so far as to call someone a willing slut and publish her cell phone number and address.
Last year, Ashley Rose, a junior at the University of California, Irvine, told CBS News’ The Early Show about a posting on the site that said she had “engaged in oral sex with four men in one evening.” Ms. Rose said she was able to deal with these innuendos because, “people who are friends with me know the truth about the type of person that I am.”
I’m a strong believer in free speech and perhaps JuicyCampus did have a First Amendment right to encourage people to anonymously post whatever they wanted to say about others, but just because something might be legal doesn’t mean it’s good. In looking at the site last year I saw postings that were sexist, racist, hateful, and homophobic. Maybe they were just online versions of fraternity pranks but, whatever they were, I think the net is better off without them.
It’s no wonder that some student government associations, according to the Associated Press, asked their administration to ban the site from campus networks. It’s not often that students call for banning speech, but even though I’m not sure I agree that that was the best tactic, it was certainly understandable.
Goodbye JuicyCampus. May you never return.