New Jersey investigates college gossip site

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March 21, 2008

3:14 PM

The popular college gossip site JuicyCampus.com has recently come under legal scrutiny in the state of New Jersey. State prosecutors subpoenaed the site’s records last month to determine whether or not it violates the Consumer Fraud Act.

p. The New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs announced March 18 that it was officially investigating JuicyCampus.com, as well as the company that places advertisements on the site, Adbrite, according to a March 19 Associated Press article.

p. JuicyCampus.com launched in October 2007. It bills itself as a site on which college students can anonymously post gossip about other students. Some 59 institutions are represented on the site, including Harvard University, Princeton University and Cornell University.

p. The College is not one of the universities currently represented on the site.

p. While the site states that it does not allow abusive or obscene content, it lacks the tools to prevent such content from being posted. It is for this reason that New Jersey is investigating whether or not the site is in violation of the Consumer Fraud Act.

p. “The site allows users to sign their names to posts, or not, and encourages free speech for the discussion of topics that most interest college students,” site representatives said. They also insisted that the site cannot be responsible for user-generated content.

p. Unlike other social networking websites, JuicyCampus.com does not keep detailed records of users’ activities. Its privacy policy assures users that posting is completely anonymous, and even offers advice on how to mask an IP address from servers. Without that information, JuicyCampus.com has no effective way of investigating, stopping or pursuing legal action against posters.

p. In addition to New Jersey, colleges across the nation have expressed their concern over the popular website.
Pepperdine University’s student government recently voted 23-5 to completely ban access to JuicyCampus.com.

p. JuicyCampus.com’s founder, Matt Ivester, a Duke University alumnus, has expressed little concern over the site’s backlash.
“Like anything that is even remotely controversial, there are always people who demand censorship,” he said. “However, we believe that JuicyCampus can have a really positive impact on college campuses, as a place for both entertainment and free expression.”

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