Editorial: The Talon’s Opinion on ‘LAHS Secrets’

The “LAHS Secrets” page has existed for less than a week, and it already has over 600 likes and a backlog of submissions. It’s also already created the potential for serious consequences—legal and otherwise. Although this page was probably started with innocent intentions, it may have severe repercussions that neither students or faculty are equipped to deal with.

The creators likely had no intention of doing people harm. However, this page ceased to have any semblance of being harmless when it began referring to teachers by name. Although the moderator of the page has already taken down the most offensive comments that referred to teachers by name, this just goes to show how quickly libelous comments have been posted.

And “libelous” is literal—teachers could potentially sue students for some of the comments that have been posted on the page. Dozens of students have been expelled for Facebook comments in schools across the United States.

This is a public forum. Anyone can see it—administrators have already liked it. Students may feel that their identities are protected due to their anonymity, but this attitude is pure naivete. It is possible for Facebook to track IP addresses and figure out who submitted the secrets. The moderator, or group of moderators, already knows. This alone should be reason enough not to submit comments—by doing so, students are placing their trust in a total stranger.

Although just today, the moderators resolved to have “a new policy of not posting anything that would likely be considered offensive or slanderous towards teachers and other individuals,” that doesn’t mean students will stop submitting them. And some comments may go beyond libel. If the moderator receives a secret in which a student threatens to physically harm another, they will be in a difficult situation: uncertain whether the threat is serious, and what to do if it is.

Some secrets have already approached being threatening, albeit jokingly.

One comment says, “For my English narrative, I wrote a story about how a boy goes crazy and kills his math teacher with a lacrosse stick which was strongly based on my relationship with [my math teacher].”

At what point do comments like these become serious threats? And, more importantly, do high schoolers have the training and experience to decide?

Using this page puts all students involved in danger and out of their depth. And its benefits are unclear at best.

The moderators posted a comment saying, “We just want you all to understand that though this page will continue to post funny thoughts and stories, you shouldn’t forget why the page was made in the first place, and that there are real problems all around us that we don’t even know about.”

The problems are real, but this is not the way to deal with them. Posting anonymous comments about bullying or issues with teachers doesn’t solve these problems—it just keeps students guessing, or worse, scoffing at serious topics.