More than a Murmur

A new social media app’s anonymous communication between students is causing concern.

by Connor Nikolic

A murmur is a low whisper or confidential sound. With this in mind, St. Paul college students created the latest hot social media app gaining popularity at the University of Minnesota.

 Available to anyone with a college email address and an iOS device, Murmur allows students to post in categories including “ShoutOuts,” admirations, drunken thoughts, photos and anything else on their mind anonymously. They can also comment on posts or chat with random college students from the University or other schools. However, the app limits users from posting on another school’s feed.

The University seems to have caught on to this app quicker than others. No other school has a single post close to the University’s most popular posts, which now have hundreds of likes. This makes sense because Murmur’s creators, Park Collective LLC, are college students from St. Paul.

The University of Minnesota Secret Admirers and Confessions Facebook pages, in addition to Murmur, show that University students seem to enjoy anonymously posting about their classmates, love interests and lives. Perhaps it’s our inner passive-aggressive, Minnesota-nice selves coming out.

In the past week, I’ve had conversations with anonymous students from Minnesota, Wisconsin, Florida and even one student studying abroad in Mexico.

On other social networks like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, such anonymous conversations are impossible. People would see my profile and immediately decide if I look like someone they would want to chat with.

The app raises the question: How can we possibly regulate Murmur?

When a person is being illicit or inappropriate, you can report them to site administrators who have the power to remove reported users from the app.

However, several students have already posted complaints about their experiences in the chats. Hopefully, administrators removed these users from the site, as stated in the privacy policy.

Students who’ve been on campus a few years may remember LikeALittle, which had a similar concept. LikeALittle allowed students to post, chat and comment on others’ posts anonymously. Interestingly, LikeALittle assigned each user a fruit for a name to distinguish between commenters without revealing identity. LikeALittle discontinued in July 2012 amid issues with inappropriate and sexually explicit posts.

Murmur is in danger of replicating LikeALittle’s downfall, though University students sure seem to be OK with the risk based on how many students have already signed up since the app launched Nov. 5.

Murmur is a great new tool, and once it goes big, I’ve got a feeling we’ll be proud to be early users.

I’ve already procrastinated too much from scrolling through the University’s feed and interacting with strangers on the site. As it continues to grow, we’ll see what becomes of the newest kid on the social media block.