Gossip may be a part of life at colleges across America. But one Web site is taking the campus rumor mill nationwide with no consequences for anyone except the victims.
Gossip Web sites used to be about the latest happenings in the celebrity world. But now some people are feeling free to gossip about their friends or even people they don't know.
That type of gossip can be found on JuicyCampus.com.
Crossing the Line
What supposedly started out as an entertainment Web site for college students has turned into a center for hateful, racist, and even malicious rantings by some of its users.
Popular topics include 'sluttiest girl on campus' and even 'the biggest drug users.' Posters are free to say people's full names and give personal information without any accountability.
"A lot of kids who would never, ever cross the line are crossing it, because it's easy," said one attorney.
And once users have posted their comments to the site they can not be removed.
One university student whose reputation was smeared on the Web site feels helpless.
"It's disgusting what's written," said Lindsay. "The language is extremely pornographic and degrading. It really angers me that the person
who wrote it doesn't have to leave a name. They are completely anonymous."
Anonymous Users Can Post What They Want at Will
In fact, Juicy Campus boasts that its posts are 100 percent anonymous.
Their Web site states that "it is not possible for anyone to use their Web site to find out who you are or where you are located." The site even gives advice on how to block any outside traces to your computer.
But several concerned groups are taking notice. Many are fearful of the cyberbullying that has led to ten suicides in the last five years.
Several universities are now working to block access to JuicyCampus.com on their campuses.
Pepperdine's student body president, Andy Canales, says the site is a serious issue.
"The Web site is very dangerous," Canales said. "There are sexist, homophobic, racist, violent hateful posts that target and single out individuals."
Two States Don't Think Entertainment is the Issue
Juicy Campus founder Matt Ivester responded in a blog that the site is meant for entertainment and not for tearing people down.
But the states of New Jersey and Connecticut are still getting involved.
New Jersey's attorney general says JuicyCampus.com may violate the state's consumer fraud act.
Prosecutors have also subpoenaed the Web site's company records.
However, Juicy Campus insists it's not violating any laws. It had this online response to the state subpoena.
"We consider the attorney general's conduct to constitute a heavy handed attempt by the government to....interfere with the free speech rights of our users."
Still, lawyers caution students to think twice before making hateful posts about other people.
Under a new cyberstalking law, those postings could be consider harrassment.
"Is it really anonymous? Absolutely not," one attorney said. "You're leaving a trail of cyberbread crumbs to your computer every time you're accessing the Internet. Prosecutors will find you. Police will find you."