Clint Reinbolt

On Nov. 12, Tennessee State University became the first public institution to ban the gossip Web site JuicyCampus.com from its servers.

News of the ban has caused a stir at a number of other institutions, including Miami University, where a growing number of students are beginning to speak out against the Web site.

Since the fall of 2007, Juicy Campus has been shifting the arena of student gossip from hallways and bathroom stalls to the World Wide Web. Currently, students at more than 500 universities, including Miami, use the Web site to spill the “juice” on their peers.

Juicy Campus is currently ranked as the 3,297th most popular Web site in the U.S., according to the Alexa Web Information company.

Though the site is popular, it has been the centerpiece of controversy for much of its short history. In February 2008, CNN published a story about Juicy Campus under the headline “College Web Site Posts Sex Gossip, Hate, Rumor.”

One problem students have is the lack of credibility of the claims made on the site. According to the Web site’s terms of use, Juicy Campus has the right, but not the obligation to rearrange or remove posts.

Miami junior Ryan Macke thinks the site is full of lies.

“I would say over 99 percent of the time, people are just posting lies,” he said. “I would never take something I read on Juicy Campus as true.”

Another problem most people see with the Web site is its promise of total anonymity to posters. According to Juicy Campus’ privacy policy, the site “does not require personally identifiable information from our users when they read or post messages to the Juicy Campus gossip board.”

The Web site does not identify individual users who post on it, according to their privacy policy.

“If people had to make their names public before saying things about somebody else, I think a lot less of the hateful rumors would spread on Juicy Campus,” said Andrea Akin, vice president of public relations for Panhellenic (Panhel) Association.

According to Akin, a letter concerning Juicy Campus was sent to the Ohio Attorney General two months ago. The letter, co-written by Akin and Ali Cook, vice president of recruitment for Panhel, was sent on behalf of Miami’s Panhel executive council and asked for assistance and advice on dealing with problems Juicy Campus has created at Miami. As of now, Akin said there has been no response.

Akin also said that Miami’s administration has been contacted in an attempt to ban the Web site. So far, however, Miami has refused to take action.

According to Claire Wagner, associate director of university communications, there is currently no movement within the administration to ban Juicy Campus at Miami.

Juicy Campus has taken care to protect itself legally. Posting on his blog in February 2008, Juicy Campus creator Matt Ivester claimed that the Web site “is immune from liability arising from content posted by users.”

Under section 260 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, the fact that Juicy Campus only provides a forum and does not tell people what to say makes it a third party. Thus, he feels the Web site cannot legally be held responsible for what its users post.

Akin said that Panhel has asked fraternity and sorority presidents to advocate against using the Web site. She said since it appears unlikely that the site will be banned on campus, the next best option is to try and curb its use.

“Whether we like it or not, Juicy Campus is here,” Akin said. “People are going to say things and it’s just something we’re going to have to deal with.”

In addition to TSU, Hampton University blocked the site, and a University of Delaware student filed a lawsuit against several individuals who posted comments on her-referring to the anonymous posters as John Does 1 through 5.

TSU’s student newspaper, the TSU Meter, reported Sunday that Juicy Campus is working with Tennessee’s chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union to bring a lawsuit against TSU.

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