Bing U-Secrets sparks dialogue, drama on Facebook page

In just over a month, Bing U-Secrets, a new Facebook page inspired by PostSecret, has exploded in popularity, receiving hundreds of posts and over 1,500 friends.

The page’s creator, who spoke via Facebook on the condition of anonymity to maintain the anonymous spirit of the site, said that by its third week, the page received over 20 submissions per day. As of now, the number of submissions posted to the site figures well into the hundreds.

Unlike its inspiration, PostSecret, the website that posts anonymously submitted, secret-spilling postcards, Bing U-Secrets is text-only. The posts are displayed entirely on Facebook rather than a blogging platform, but it still adheres to PostSecret’s ethos of anonymity and unfiltered speech. Anyone can submit secrets — either by email, on Tumblr or by messaging the Facebook group directly. The mediator behind Bing U-Secrets insists that the page is maintained by just one person, but that a few other people know who runs it.

Frank Warren, the man behind PostSecret, visited Binghamton University’s Anderson Center during homecoming 2009 to promote his fifth book of anthologized submissions to the website. The PostSecret-inspired phenomenon previously hit campus in spring of 2008, when a student anonymously started bingsecrets.blogspot.com. That blog allowed students to send digital postcards, also published anonymously, and received over 60 submissions. But Bing U-Secrets, since its start on Dec. 18, has many times more submissions.

The secrecy is sometimes undone by Facebook users tagging people in the posts and claiming to know the person behind a secret in the comments — exposing the identity of the poster.

“Something supposed to be secret is indirectly revealed to the person it’s about,” said Mark Carotenuto, a sophomore majoring in management who frequently comments on the page. “It can be positive and some of the posts have been touching. On the other hand, some have been very malicious, or just super shallow.”

Many of the posts on Bing U-Secrets are obviously fake, such as the ones that claim to be characters from “Good Will Hunting,” “The Muppets,” or “Mean Girls.” Some submissions aren’t even strictly secrets at all.

“They’re usually the funniest,” said Jennifer Ortiz, a sophomore majoring in chemistry who also frequently comments on the page. “People think of it more like a diary, they just want to express themselves.”

Because the system works by anonymity, one does not necessarily need to be a student at Binghamton University to submit to the website. Furthermore, submissions are posted in their entirety and are not checked for accuracy.

“None of them have been shortened or cut,” the mediator behind Bing U-Secrets said. “I have posted every secret I’ve been sent, regardless of how ‘believable’ it may sound.”

This policy of disinterest stood until Jan. 17, when a series of submissions prompted an announcement that “blatant attacks to a specific person” would no longer be posted. All degrading posts mentioning specific names were then retroactively deleted from the page. The mediator insists that posts mentioning specific names would continue to be allowed on the page as long as they are not degrading, negative, or otherwise malicious. The next day, naming specific groups, such as fraternities or sororities, was also banned.

“My intention in starting this page was not to foster hatred and ill will,” the mediator said. “It was just an open forum for people to share their uncensored thoughts and secrets and to discuss bigger ideas, not to pick at or fuel anger towards a specific person.”

This “open forum” has fostered a candid discussion about issues facing student life. Instead of directly commenting on posts, some visitors opt to reply to other posts with their own anonymous rejoinders, where they can speak their mind without being concerned about confrontation. Posts about friendship, relationships, Greek Life and dating have all attracted dozens of comments. Taylor Thomas, an undeclared sophomore, appreciates the ongoing conversation.

“I’ve actually added two people as Facebook friends who I just felt I could connect with because we shared some of the same concerns and had some of the same views,” Thomas said.

The Bing U-Secrets mediator believes that this interaction between students is a mark of success for the page.

“I’ve even seen people reach out to each other,” the mediator said. “There are some jerks out there but most students are just looking for support and there are many who are willing to give it.”