Online confession craze on the wane

Posed photo of a girl sitting in front of a computer and surfing the internet. Administrators for the National University of Singapore (NUS), Nanyang Technological University (NTU) and Singapore Management University (SMU) Confessions pages said
Posed photo of a girl sitting in front of a computer and surfing the internet. Administrators for the National University of Singapore (NUS), Nanyang Technological University (NTU) and Singapore Management University (SMU) Confessions pages said entries had been declining recently. -- ST PHOTO: WANG HUI FEN

Some revealed their darkest secrets, others made public their feelings for that special someone, while yet others shared juicy gossip.

But six months after the popularity of Facebook confession pages reached a peak, the craze appears to be waning.

These online confession forums are set up by various groups, mainly university and school students, and allow users to share any kind of secret anonymously.

ST 20130729 DLCONFESSIONS29 3767208

Administrators for the National University of Singapore (NUS), Nanyang Technological University (NTU) and Singapore Management University (SMU) Confessions pages said entries had been declining recently.

From a peak of about 20 posts a day in February, NTU Confessions now gets about 10. NUS Confessions used to receive between 70 and 100 submissions a day, but that has dropped to about 20. SMU Confessions pushed out between 50 and 80 daily entries at the start, but now averages between 20 and 50.

Their administrators attributed it to the current university term break, but also acknowledged that the novelty of the concept could be dying off. "People are being lazy," said an NTU page administrator who declined to be named.

The craze was thrust into the spotlight after a user posted in February on the NUS Confessions page - the first such page to be set up here - that condoms had been removed from the shelves at a campus pharmacy. That triggered a debate about whether contraceptives should be sold on school premises.

The website trend soon caught on, with students from other schools and even Singapore Armed Forces soldiers setting up these pages.

In order to maintain the popularity of their sites, some site operators are taking a proactive approach.

Anderson Junior College Confessions, for one, introduced weekly themes, such as acts of kindness. But it was discontinued after a while as they felt it might lead to users posting fake submissions to go with the theme.

Monetising the website is on the cards for both SMU and NUS Confessions. Their page administrators, who are students of the universities, are thinking of placing unobtrusive advertisements on the site or doing tie-ups with sponsors.

But they said the integrity of the site's content would not be compromised. "We will keep the original intent of the page as top priority," said an NUS page administrator, who added that any income generated would be redistributed to the university's population in the form of vouchers or discounts.

What keeps them going is knowing how their work makes a real difference offline, they said. Once, a student who could not afford her school fees made a confession, said the NUS page administrator. An anonymous donor stepped forward and offered her an undisclosed amount of financial support.

ldebbie@sph.com.sg