NEWS

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February 10, 2009

Juicy Campus folds citing lack of funds, makes way for new student gossip site

The popular and controversial website JuicyCampus.com closed down last week, but its legacy, and a spin-off, live on.

College ACB (Anonymous Confessions Board) has taken over Juicy Campus’s domain and will continue to allow anonymous postings.

The University of Chicago has a specific message board on the site, which as of Monday night featured eight posts, including: “What’s your GPA?”

Currently owned and operated by Peter Frank, a first-year at Wesleyan University, the site hopes to fill the same niche as Juicy Campus, but without as much controversy and slander.

“I think we’re seeing a lot of the same posts we saw on Juicy Campus, and I think that’s the sort of thing we want to shy away from,” Frank said, referring to the frequently obscene posts that plagued Juicy Campus and which cropped up on College ACB as well. However, he remains optimistic that College ACB will move to a more sophisticated level of discussion. “I think they’re beginning to see the site can be used for serious discussion.”

According to the Juicy Campus blog, the website’s closing is not related to legal issues, and no criminal charges were ever brought against Juicy Campus, which caught the attention of several state attorneys general in relation to defamation of character claims.

“It’s clear that we have provided a platform that students have found interesting, entertaining, and fun,” wrote JuicyCampus.com founder and CEO Matt Iveter on the blog last week. “Juicy Campus’s exponential growth outpaced our ability to muster the resources needed to survive this economic downturn, and as a result, we are closing down the site as of February 5, 2009.”

Iveter stressed that the site’s services and policies have always been legal. Juicy Campus sparked protests at many colleges across the nation since its creation in 2007, but according to Iveter, only a minority of colleges chose to ban the website.

“I’d like to thank everyone who has engaged in meaningful discussion about online privacy and Internet censorship,” Iveter wrote. “Juicy Campus has raised issues that have passionate advocates on both sides, and I hope that dialogue will continue.”

The new site may be a departure from the original. Frank said that he will market the site differently, which will be important to the site’s financial success. He cited Juicy Campus’s legal bills as perhaps related to the site’s closing.

“Our plan is to keep our costs low…basically a combination of low overhead and a better image,” Frank said. “[We hope to] have our image good enough that advertisers feel comfortable advertising with us.”

Each post has a “report” option at the bottom, allowing users to flag anything they may find offensive. But so far, the use of such flags has not prevented obscenities and lewd suggestions from appearing on the site.

Third-year College Council member Jarrod Wolf, who previously proposed that the Student Government take action against Juicy Campus, is glad to see the site go.

“I think that websites like Juicy Campus will be around as long as people like to gossip,” Wolf said. “However, I do believe that while they do have the potential for strong negative impacts, sites like the forthcoming College ACB will go largely unnoticed.”

In the days since Juicy Campus closed, College ACB has received about half a million hits a day, eight times as many daily hits as its predecessor.

College ACB is protected by the same laws that protected Juicy Campus. The Communications Decency Act of 1996 provides a great deal of protection for websites like Juicy Campus and College ACB. Section 203 of the act states that owners of websites aren’t legally accountable for content on their site the same way that publishers are for more conventional media under their control.