BREAKING: ExeHonestly is shutting down following racist post controversy
The police have confirmed they are treating this as a hate incident
ExeHonestly is set to be deleted after the admins refused to disclose their identities to Exeter University.
The admins attached screenshots in their last ever post that showed emails had been exchanged between the team and the university. The university expressed that they were unwilling to go forward in discussion with the admins if they maintained their anonymity. The admins were unwilling to meet their demands.
In "the last ExeHonestly post ever", the admins thanked those who had submitted non-racist posts and supported them through the past week, after they were accused of allowing "nazi propaganda" to be posted on the page.
The admins confirmed this was the end of the road for ExeHonestly as they needed to prioritise their own mental health, saying that members of their team were terrified that their lives would be ruined if the university found out who they were.
The Exeter Tab first broke the story that the University of Exeter had reported ExeHonestly to Facebook on 4th November, after a handful of posts were found to have white supremacist origins.
This was escalated when the university revealed to The Exeter Tab that they had reported the ExeHonestly complaint to the Police Hate Crime Unit.
The police have since confirmed that they will be treating the posts as a hate crime incident.
ExeHonestly admins addressed the racism controversy and told The Exeter Tab that they do not condone any racist content on their page and do not believe that their team is responsible for any crime.
The student population was supportive of ExeHonestly after a poll run on The Exeter Tab's instagram story found 91 per cent of people believed that ExeHonestly should not be shut down after allowing racist posts. 1,120 people voted in the poll.
Read the full ExeHonestly post below:
"Firstly, we would like to thank every single one of you who submitted (non-racist) posts, without you all the page would not have had the content which we have all enjoyed. Secondly, we are really grateful for all the support that the student community has given us in the past week.
"As we have mentioned in the past our admin team is constantly changing. In all honesty, the current team has been overwhelmed for some time now, as noticed by some of you in our longer than usual upload times and moderating posts at 3am.
"Despite that, we have continued to run this page for various reasons. Some of us because we felt this page provided a previously lacked sense of campus-wide community.
"Others felt that it is was important for people to have a platform to raise issues which people felt the university was not dealing with, or expose problems which would not have been revealed without the protection of anonymity – such as lecture sign in.
"Yet, most of us did not want to let down those who used the platform to message us regularly about their mental health problems or felt that posts were the best way to cry for help.
The University’s latest response has distressed us greatly and is another example of how out of touch they are with the student body.
"This is evident not only by the number of students that choose to use our page but also, in the number of likes the posts in support of us received and the polling The Tab conducted.
"The University in their latest response has said that they care about ‘addressing serious issues of racism and mental health’; however, the impact of their needless escalation to genuine mistakes has been enormous.
"Not only that, but we are one of the most ethnically diverse student groups in Exeter, so there is an irony that the University is pursuing multiple BME students for not realising something was racist towards themselves.
"For the University this is an issue of public relations, for us, it is an issue of our future livelihoods.
"Our team is terrified that our lives will be ruined if the university becomes aware of who we are.
"Although they are okay now, some our members had suicidal thoughts last night and were too afraid to contact anyone for support in case they were arrested, expelled, or had their reputations destroyed for a mistake in moderation they themselves did not even make.
"We signed up because we wanted to do the best job we could for the Exeter community, some of us have barely even been admins, we did not sign up to hurt anyone or become hunted.
"Yes, if we were better, we would have made ‘a 10-second Google search’ for all 39,000 posts on our pages (excluding all the posts that get rejected); but then again, when you are a student who cannot fall asleep late at night because no one has had time to look through the submissions and you are feeling guilty that you are letting down thousands of people and still have 600 to get through – you make mistakes.
"We tried to get more admins on board to help us, but even then, the volume was so overwhelming that we had yet not been able to go through all the responses in enough detail to ensure that we were being responsible in who joined us.
"We are genuinely really sorry to those which rely on us, but we have to prioritise our own mental health and walk away from the page.
"When the university says we are not capable of hosting a community site’, they are right, we do not have the mental resilience to continue –
"However, they are so wrong when they say that racist incidents demonstrate this.
"It is standard practice on social media for posts to occasionally get through, the key responsibility is making sure that they are removed as soon admins become aware they violate online guidelines.
"Under the University’s statement’s logic, despite the University strongly responding to racist incidents as soon as they are aware, the University is incapable of running an institution for higher learning – something we think is an unfair criticism.
"Additionally, we would like to see recent examples of what the University means when they say have ‘tried to reach out’.
"Though previous admins have confirmed that a University spokesperson helped the page deal with some issues, that helpline stopped nearly half a year ago.
"They did contact us recently about a suicidal post; this was purely to uncover the user’s identity, not to offer support or to work together on inclusivity – though we do still apologise for not responding promptly.
"Linked below are our conversations with the University where we contacted them first, and then they stopped replying to our emails.
"We would also like to thank the Students’ Guild for offering us training to stop subliminally racist posts. Although we don’t want to continue running this page, we suggest anyone considering starting their own confession page takes up their offer.
"We will take the page offline soon after people have had a chance to read this post.