LSE Secrets: The Inside Story

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The Beaver has exclusively been talking to those at the heart of the now notorious Facebook page, LSE Secrets. The picture painted by sources approached by The Beaver is that of a well-intentioned experiment that went horribly wrong. The page was taken down on Friday afternoon, after widespread criticism from students and staff alike with regards to recent postings.

The page developed out of a desire by the two admins to create a forum, similar to that of Imperial Secrets, where LSE Students could air their grievances.

Almost immediately the admins began receiving highly abusive, often racist, submissions. Faced with this, a debate was had by the admins as to whether to provide a platform for such views. On one hand, they discussed whether such views should be censored to prevent the perpetuation of hate speech and open racism. However, they decided that by publishing the submissions the LSE community would recognise such views exist and challenge them. Despite this stance, the admins did censor the most offensive material but the threshold was set fairly high. In cases where submissions were racist and on the cusp of criminally offensive, they published with the intention that LSE students would round on the post and denounce it.

A reliable source stated that the contributors ruined the policy of absolute free speech. They added that it was important remember that the admins had no way of checking the veracity of submissions. The anonymous submissions form was exactly that; it was impossible to say if contributions actually came from LSE students, or were genuine in any way. Condemning LSE students exclusively is therefore a dangerous game; literally anyone could have been submitting content.

The intention was firmly that of creating a platform for people to air grievances they wouldn’t share with anyone else. It seems the admins recognised the nature of their responsibilities; they reached out to Peer Supporters and encouraged them to provide advice in the comments.

Before the most controversial material appeared on the site, the original admins were at risk of exposure and handed control over to a new set. The latest admins clearly pursued a less rigorous approach to censorship, and with the most recent set of posts the original admins intervened and forced the closure of the page. The original admins were pretty shocked at the way the page went, and certainly had no intention to publicise the hate speech that led to the page’s demise.

Those involved recognise that the content was tasteless, and that the page may well have damaged LSE’s students image of their institution and their trust in fellow students. For their part, they hope that the copycat sites that have emerged do not take off.

Alexander Fyfe

Alexander is a second year Social Policy student, who edited Technology and PartB before becoming Managing Editor in May 2014. He became Executive Editor in February 2015. He has a keen interest in news media, particularly in motoring journalism. He is a freelance contributor to Parkers Guide.