Yorfess Impact on Elections: Assessed

Popular online confessions pages have taken centre stage in this elections cycle as two YUSU Sabb candidates were revealed to be admins of Yorfess III during the campaign.

The racist posts of another page during York’s coronavirus outbreak, titled “Yorfess” but not run by the same admins, were brought up as an issue to all of the Sabb candidates during Candidate Debate Night on February 13.

Jade Brewer, an unsuccessful candidate for York Sport President, and Hugh Campkin, an unsuccessful candidate for Student Activities Officer, both admitted during the campaign to be admins for the popular page. After which, the role of the pages in the University and YUSU became a much more pressing issue in the Elections which concluded on February 22.

Curiously, another anonymous page titled ‘York Truths’ was created on February 12, which promised to be the “independent fact-checker” that York supposedly needed during the campaign. This page anonymously claimed that YUSU needed to clamp down on Brewer and Campkin because they were “criminals”, possibly alluding to Yorfess III’s trouble with Facebook moderation in its previous forms (Yorfess and Yorfessions). This page, though, was short-lived and was seemingly deactivated after York Vision contacted them and notified them of the legal risk of their posts.

Both Yorfess pages operate a two-fold anonymity in which the admins remain anonymous and they also do not know the identity of the posts which are submitted.
When contacted for comment by York Vision, Brewer stated that the elections have “only looked at Yorfess in a negative light and ignored the ways it brings students together, and that it is for entertainment purposes.”

She stated her intention to try and stay as an admin of the page to keep students safe and make sure that entertainment was what it was being used for, but failing this she would not be “supporting the page”. Brewer noted that the publication of this article could lead to her removal as an admin.

York Sport President Maddi Cannell told York Vision that “work needs to be done to ensure the platforms themselves are being run and engaged with in a way that does not risk bullying, promotes the spread of misinformation, and shows York in a more positive light.”

Featured Image by Yorfess III