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Anonymity: A Double-Edged Sword
The Editorial Board
January 28, 2015

Last year, the app Yik Yak swept through the Deerfield campus, prompting a series of community-wide conversations about our school values, accompanied by pleas from the administration to stop hurtful anonymous postings. Many students felt individually targeted by the app, and others were concerned about the app’s divisive, rather than uniting, nature.

This year, another anonymous posting app became popular during the winter months. The app, Swipe, was not nearly as widely used; however, some students, as they did with Yik Yak, again took advantage of the power of anonymity to post hurtful posts directed towards certain students. This makes The Scroll Board wonder: Why are these students willing to voice these opinions only when their identity is secret? Is it because there is no possibility of punishment? Whatever the motive, we believe these posts go against Deerfield’s values, many of which lie at the core of a healthy community atmosphere.

The Scroll Board does believes, however, that anonymity can also be employed in the service of good. The new Facebook group created by Nicky Conzelman and Jared Armes allows all members of the student community who have Facebook to post their ideas and opinions about school goings-on. Then, Nicky and Jared will relay the general mood, opinions and frustrations of the student body—anonymously—to the administration. The two students have presented this Facebook group—with its element of anonymity—as a solution for recent frustrations about mistrust between students and faculty. As Nicky and Jared will have the power to supervise all posts, the group will be moderated in a way neither Yik Yak nor Swipe was.

Anonymity can be a double-edged sword. The Scroll Board believes the new Facebook group is a step forward in using the power of anonymity—namely its ability to occasionally create opportunities for trust rather than mistrust—for the right purposes.