Why Anonymous Social Networks Are Scary

CNN › Steve Kovach

In late 2007, a social network called Juicy Campus started going viral at a handful of colleges.

But unlike Facebook, which saw a similar buzz three years earlier as a fast-spreading social network conquering one university after another, Juicy Campus encouraged its users to talk about each other, not themselves. Instead of posting party photos and calls for homework help, Juicy Campus was a social network designed to spread gossip about your peers. And to get the best gossip, Juicy Campus let its users post anonymously.

You can imagine where that went. After posts of students’ sexual exploits and even personal threats began to spread across Juicy Campus, some colleges attempted to block their servers from accessing the site. Fortunately, Juicy Campus didn’t last long and was dead by early 2009 because it couldn’t generate enough advertising revenue to stay afloat.

Today, there’s a new resurgence in anonymous social networks and messaging apps, which seem to be gaining traction in light of Edward Snowden’s revelations that the National Security Agency has access to just about everything we do online.