Formspring, a social networking site that allows users to anonymously ask other users questions, has disabled nearly 30 million registered users’ passwords after one of the San Francisco-based company’s servers was hacked, as reported in USA TODAY. The website, often criticized for causing more harm than good, peaked in 2009.
Shelby Issersohn, a rising communications junior at Rutgers University, joined Formspring because she wanted to keep on top of her social networking. “And of course,” she said in an email, “there is always curiosity in hearing what other people want to know about you.”
Issersohn answered most questions she was asked, as long as she felt they were either appropriate, interesting or there was a case where she felt she needed to defend herself.
At first, for Issersohn, the negative comments were balanced by the good. Yet in the short time that she kept her account, she felt the site caused problems for her.
“Just like all other social networking sites, people felt they could hide behind an Internet screen name and say or ask anything they wanted,” she said. “Most of the time, these questions or comments were either extremely risqué or disrespectful. Most comments left me confused and angered, which ultimately lead me to deleting the account.”
However, she wasn’t angry at those who asked her such alarming questions. “I was angry at myself. I, like all other users, put myself on this website and set myself up for “friends’” brutal honesty. It was no one’s fault but my own,” she said.
Haley Forman, a rising junior and a business major at the University of Maryland knew exactly what she was getting herself into when she signed up for Formspring.
She was familiar with the site and had seen the backlash and negativity that others had received. From what she understood, most questions dealt with rumors or “cruel comments about a person’s appearance or personality,” Forman wrote in an e-mail.
“Honestly, there were a few questions I didn’t post because they were so mean or personal that I didn’t feel the need for them to be displayed on the Internet, especially on a page that I had control over,” she said. “But then whoever asked a question that went unanswered would inbox me again and threaten me for not posting the original question.”
Forman had never been a self-conscious person, though many of her attackers found imperfections with both her appearance and her personality.
With the bad, however, came some good. Some of her comments were gratifying.
“One person commented saying, ‘You are not someone that would usually talk to me but we spoke today. I know now that you are not who these people say you are. If they took the time to get to know you they would see what a good person you really are,’” she said. “I would say that was definitely my best experience.”
Forman’s time on Formspring was short-lived. “I wasn’t sure how much more I could take before I drove myself crazy.
“In this case it is true — what you don’t know will never hurt you.”
Powered by Facebook Comments