Twitter account, ‘SRU Crushes,’ affects students’ rights to privacy

Published by adviser, Author: Janelle Wilson - Asst. Campus Life Editor, Date: October 2, 2014
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The anonymous twitter account “SRU Crushes” was in violation of Twitter’s “Private Information” policy, which states that users can’t tweet addresses of people without their consent, and this may have led to the account’s suspension last Friday.

Of all the anonymously operated SRU parody accounts on Twitter, SRU Crushes is the one of the most popular, racking up over 3,500 followers. Senior criminology major Alexa Webster, 22, operated SRU Crushes for about a year, and through her account, over 3,100 “crushes” were tweeted about. After her account was suspended last Friday, she revealed herself, and announced a successor account named “SRU Crushes: Part 2.” Though most of the crushes were harmless, some of them included not only the first and last names of students, but also where they live.

Crushes were also subject to vulgarity from the senders, and freshman political science major Jordan Iorio, 18, who had never heard of the account, was sent a screenshot of a tweet about her that said, “Jordan Iorio is a goddess. I want her to sit right on my face. From one of your Twitter followers.”

“I was shocked at first,” Iorio said. “I didn’t even know this account existed, and then I’m being mentioned on it by my first and last name.”

Social media professor Doug Strahler attributes the success of anonymous accounts like “SRU Crushes” to Twitter’s fast paced and conversational environment.

“Anything posted on Twitter is a quick little blurb,” Strahler said. “This type of setting allows people to post anything that comes to mind, and forget about it just a few minutes later.”

“SRU Crushes” often tweeted submissions that disregarded students’ rights to privacy, and posted tweets despite the vulgar content of messages, including the one sent about Iorio.

“It’s strange to think about, but because someone tweeted about me in that way, my name’s linked with that kind of behavior now,” Iorio said, “and I’m not like that at all.”

Though most of the vulgar tweets have been sent about women, men too find themselves subject to sexualized tweets. Junior information technology major Anthony Ordak, 20, also hadn’t heard of the account before his first mention, which said, “Anthony Ordak, the things I would do for and to you. Let’s see those pecs ;)”

“Anyone who would’ve seen my pecs would’ve had to have been watching me work out at the ARC,” Ordak said. “Which seems cool at first, until you realize that someone’s watching you work out at the ARC.”

However different their involvements with “SRU Crushes,” both Iorio and Ordak were mentioned by first and last name, which prompted Ordak to find out who had sent out the tweet.

Ordak said that he’s so busy with work and school that it’d be hard for somebody to have noticed him and learned his full name, so he suspected the tweet was a joke submitted by his rugby teammates.

When he asked them about it, they said that they weren’t involved and suggested Ordak try to find out whom the submission was from, but he didn’t pursue it any further.

“I figured that if my crush really was interested in me and wanted to get to know me, they would’ve approached me in real life.” Ordak said.

Unlike Ordak, Iorio has a very probable suspicion as to the identity of her crush. Iorio said that one day a man followed her on twitter, which she said felt strange because she normally knows the identity of her followers.

Unless a person’s Twitter account is private, anyone can follow them or view their profile, and because of this, people don’t have any control over who views their tweets.

“That’s where the danger lies,” Strahler said. “Anyone can view and look at ‘SRU Crushes.’ It doesn’t just stay in the feeds of SRU students because that’s your intended audience. Anyone can see what’s posted.”

Iorio had forgotten all about the man, until he began sending her repeated messages.

“He seemed nice enough at first,” Iorio said. “But after I didn’t respond to several messages, it only made him message me more. Then he just kind of disappeared.”

That is until Iorio saw the tweet, and said that the tweet was worded similarly to the man’s messages to her, and she said that she had a gut feeling he sent out the tweet.

Often times, students are not only mentioned by their full names, but also their place of residence, which further affects their right to privacy. Students who may have not wanted to be featured on the account in the first place now have their addresses listed as well.

Strahler said he hoped that this lackadaisical attitude toward student privacy doesn’t lead to something tragic happening to a student.

“I don’t want to sound like a parent and say that the account needs to be stopped, because you and I both know a new one would be up in minutes,” Strahler said. “I just hope it doesn’t take something bad to happen for “SRU Crushes” to realize they have a responsibility to their followers.”

1 COMMENT

  1. Alexa revealed herself weeks ago…not just last Friday. Did you even interview her? And considering she did give up the twitter account weeks ago, why is this just now all coming out after a new person handling the account was suspended from twitter? Wouldn’t a good journalist try to figure out who this new person is since they’re the ones who were suspended?

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