Hey, did you hear about S’pore ‘Gossip Girl’ sites?

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Hey, did you hear about S’pore ‘Gossip Girl’ sites?
Done in style of hit TV series, anonymous blogs target poly students with salacious entries
SEXUAL hijinks in a polytechnic have been given a very public airing in salacious blog postings on three websites by anonymous authors.
By Teh Jen Lee
24 July 2009

SEXUAL hijinks in a polytechnic have been given a very public airing in salacious blog postings on three websites by anonymous authors.

They targeted Year One students in Ngee Ann Polytechnic’s School of Film and Media Studies (FMS).

At first, only initials were used, but full names were later disclosed.

The blogs, which were called theefmsgossipgirl, youknowyoulovegg, and youronlygossipgirl, followed the style of the popular book and TV series Gossip Girl.

The show revolves around teenagers in New York’s private schools who get involved with sex, drugs and other issues.

It is unclear when two of the blogs got started, but youknowyoulovegg was started on 26 Jun, after youronlygossipgirl was shut down.

It was shut down after a week, but had already received over 18,000 hits by that time.

Considering that Ngee Ann FMS has an intake of about 300 students per year, the blog was getting a lot of attention.

Miss Bernice Leong, 16, a first-year FMS student, said: ‘Pretty much the whole school was talking about it. I knew about it because my classmates were talking about it. I was kaypoh (curious) so I went to read.

‘I didn’t know who it was talking about but I think it’s wrong; the blogger shouldn’t write such defamatory things.’

Another Year One student, who declined to be named, said: ‘I think the blogger has no life and is too obsessed with the TV show.

Not true

‘I know the people involved – they are not the type to do what the person said they did. Alot of it is just made up.’

The blog claimed one student slept on the same bed with four other students during a night at an East Coast chalet and engaged in oral sex with a boy.

The student involved told The New Paper that this was not true.

‘We were in the same room for that night, some time in April, but nothing happened. There were at least 10 other people around, and most of the time we were awake, either talking or playing cards,’ she said.

‘Gossip Girl added me on Facebook and posted the link to the blog. When I read it, I was shocked. It was so out of the blue.’

She said she was just friends with the male student and that she did not like him, contrary to what the blog claimed.

As more people read the blog postings, they affected friendships because people were suspicious of each other and were pointing fingers, she said.

‘We haven’t found out who’s behind it. Maybe the person was bored.’

The boy she was linked with, who is in the same cohort as her, told The New Paper that he didn’t know about the blog.

When shown screen captures of the blogs, he would only comment that it was ‘stupid’.

Two Ngee Ann poly students interviewed felt that such blog postings affected the image of FMS, especially when read by people outside the school.

However, Miss Jasmine Low, 19, a Year Three student from another poly, who got to know about the blog youknow-youlovegg through Facebook, said it did not affect her opinion of FMS.

‘I was curious to know what was on it but after reading it, I think it’s really childish.

‘I wouldn’t think badly of the school because this is just the work of a few people who are trying too hard to be like the TV series.’ said Miss Low.

All three blogs were shut down after the school found out about them.

A spokesman for Ngee Ann Polytechnic said the School of Film and Media Studies found out about the blogs on 2 Jul, when some students informed their lecturer.

She said: ‘However, we were unable to ascertain who set up the blogs, which were apparently taken down the same evening.

‘The school does not condone any blogging which could be deemed offensive or defamatory.

Consequences

‘In fact, the importance of responsible blogging is highlighted to students every academic year. We have reiterated this point to the class and reminded them about the possible consequences.’

These include warning letters and disciplinary action and even possible legal action by aggrieved parties mentioned in the blog.

A lawyer from Drew & Napier told The New Paper that there is a case of Internet defamation if two conditions are satisfied.

Mr Wendell Wong, a lawyer of 12 years, said: ‘First, the aggrieved party will have to prove in a court of law that it’s obvious who the blog writer is referring to. Secondly, they must also have the means to track down the creator of the blog.

‘Those who post defamatory comments on the blog are also liable if exposed. Exposing them may involve getting information from service providers where the blog was hosted.’

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