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U of C confessions moderators reveal identities

By Scott Strasser, March 18 2016 —

After three years of anonymity, the administrators of the U of C confessions Facebook page revealed their identities on March 14.

University of Calgary students Osiris Romero, Aadle Faqiryar, Jahmssen Castaneda and Matthew Gibbons have been running the university’s popular social media community, which allows students to post anonymously on the page.

“We wanted to put a face to the name,” Faqiryar said. “A lot of the page’s likers knew of us, but didn’t know who we were. We wanted to be on a more personable level with everybody.”

Since the four students created U of C confessions in March 2013, the page has amassed more than 11,000 likes and is closing in on 19,000 posts. Romero said the page sees an average of 60,000 hits each month.

Faqiryar credited the page’s popularity to the admin’s moderation style, as well as the viral nature of some of the posts.

“People grew accustomed to the way we responded to them. They didn’t find it so much rude as they did witty,” he said.

Alongside the U of C page, the four also manage confessions pages for SAIT, the University of Toronto and the city of Calgary. Romero said the pages see an average of 2.7 million combined hits per month.

“Our biggest post ever reached 5 million views in two days,” Romero said. “There was a story about this woman from Syria with her kid on the bus. The bus made this cracking sound and the woman thought it was a gunshot, so she got on top of her kid.”

But the admins acknowledge that viral stories like this are rare. On the U of C page, confessions usually deal with crushes on classmates or minor campus complaints.  

Romero said the admins are fairly lenient about which posts are published. As long as a controversial post or confession doesn’t target a specific person, it’s fair game.

“If someone has a thought — even if it’s a little bit edgy about something that’s sexist or racist — as long as it’s not targeting someone specifically, we let that through,” Romero said. “But there are cases where, if it’s too extreme and it’s obviously there to stir people up or offend people in a harsh way, we don’t allow that.”

According to Romero, the admins have banned around 40 Facebook accounts from their confessions pages over the years — most of which were fake accounts made specifically for trolling.

“When people have a mask, they tend to turn their filter off and they tend to say what they please,” Faqiryar said. “Everyone is opinionated and free speech is obviously permitted on the pages, but of course, some things cross the line. And when that is evident, we have to take action.”

The admins are currently looking for their replacements, as they are graduating soon. Alongside their identity reveal, the administrators also began promoting a new mobile app called “Pie.”

“Pie is an app that lets people easily connect with other businesses that have things to sell,” Romero said. “We want to make it easy for people to sell or buy whatever they want.”

Faqiryar said Pie will be similar to sites like Kijiji, Amazon and Uber but will offer easier ways to connect with sellers. He cited student-to-student textbook sales as an example of how the app could be used.

“We want to help students and give them a platform so they can give back those books to the community that is in need, instead of the businesses that profit off of these students,” he said.

According to Romero and Faqiryar, Pie should launch in Calgary in April.

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