By: Kevin Hempstead
On Monday, March 18, social media forum Umentioned.com launched as the successor website of the popular UMentioned UToronto facebook page. UMentioned began as a series of Facebook groups beginning in October 2012; it was originated at Queens by student Ade Labinjo, and has since spread to a number of other universities, including U of T.
From its origin, UMentioned UToronto has been cluttering feeds with its 4000+ U of T users by posting compliments or messages from anonymous senders. Posted topics included love, depression, and student life. With huge initial success, the switch away from Facebook leaves the future of the website unknown.
“There were many reasons [for the switch],” explained the UMentioned UTSC administrator. All the administrators wished to be kept anonymous due to the sensitive topics they have screened over the past months. “One reason was Facebook accidentally thinking we’re spam and not letting us message/comment/like, etc.” As the Facebook page got increasingly popular, it became more and more work for the student admins to copy and paste the multitudinous comments.
The new website is a Twitter-style social media website, where students can sign up with their university and have the same commenting privileges. Greater anonymity is allowed because the site is completely automated; there is no longer an admin screening the comments. Guidelines are posted to ensure there is no misconduct, and accounts can be banned to ensure no inflammatory postings.
The website can even allow personalized profiles, and the adding of friends. Promised updates include emoticons and “groups” that organize themselves based on residences, courses, subject majors, or other groupings. Many of these changes are similar to the options available at other social media websites.
There is a sense of community and locality, however, that Umentioned.com can create that a larger site like Facebook cannot.
“I think UMentioned brings a huge campus community together,” stated UMentioned UTSC. “By sharing each other’s stories and advice, we’ve built a platform that is easy to connect with. That’s why I think we became so successful; people can relate to each other and share their feelings.” An apparent sense of comfort is fostered within UMentioned — in a large university that frequently elicits claims of ‘we’re just a number,’ UMentioned allows one to see they are not alone.
The future of Umentioned.com is not yet certain. A Facebook page is ubiquitous; it allows for constant updates through notifications — by becoming a separate website UMentioned may lose both its convenience and conspicuity. It also faces the challenge of competing with larger social media platforms already on students’ toolbars and mobile devices.
While the site does have the added benefit of anonymity — a far cry from Facebook’s terms of agreement — the assurance of 100 per cent anonymity may facilitate discussions about more personal topics. Despite the strength UMentioned garners from its honesty, posts can venture precariously into mental health issues and sexual topics.
Now safe in the knowledge that not even an admin will read the post, the amount of personal information users post may turn into a double-edged sword and potentially pose a risk for the future success of the site. Time will tell whether this infantile site will one day rival its social media elder-brethren in size and popularity.
Any U of T student can sign up on www.umentioned.com. Check out the website to find more or get started.
This article was originally published on our old website at https://thenewspaper.ca/news/umentioned-latest-new-social-media-craze/.