The Dangers of LiveSafe: Anonymity has its Costs
The time has come for Furman to reflect on LiveSafe’s usefulness and place within the community.
If anonymous reporting is merely sowing seeds of discontent within the community, have its negatives come to outweigh its benefits?
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Furman students have become quite familiar with the LiveSafe app during this academic year. Whether it’s recording our daily health checks (which few actually do) or reporting Paladin Promise infractions, the app has now become a somewhat permanent icon on our messy home screens. However, I would argue that this app is helping the Furman community in few, if any, ways. In fact, I believe it’s primarily sowing discontent amongst the student body.
The app itself, and some of its capabilities, are not the problem. Where I find issue with the platform is in students ability to anonymously report any student(s) they believe to be breaking our beloved Paladin Promise. Anonymity, while conceptually not a bad idea, has many practical downsides — negative ones which, I believe, are tearing the Furman community apart.
Let us be honest with one another — we are college students. Our emotions are tumultuous, our friendships complicated, and our judgement sometimes impaired. This described state, when enabled by the freedom and, in some sad way, exhilarating prospects of anonymous reporting, leads to rash decisions. Decisions in which we report those who have wronged us rather than those merely in the wrong. A student recently sent in a troubling message to the instagram account @fumissedconnections:
Anon but can we talk about the false LiveSafe reports being filed against people just because they have personal beef with them? If nobody is breaking any rules there’s no need to try to get them in trouble just because you have something against them personally. It can ruin their future for no reason.
False reports cannot be detected under the current setup of the app, thereby placing those who have been reported solely at the mercy of accusatory authorities. Therefore, I must ask if this is worth it. Is Livesafe truly a useful tool? If the goal of anonymous reporting is to instill fear in students, then perhaps I would say the answer is yes. Perhaps I would say Furman should consider itself successful.
I, for one, am very scared — scared of simply walking alone to my car with my mask accidentally draped below my nose. I am distrustful of my own fellow classmates, not because I fear that they will break the Paladin Promise, but that they will erroneously report me. I am worried about being in the position of answering for a false accusation, one in which I have little to no power in overturning. In many ways, LiveSafe has turned into a platform for victimization where the perpetrators have nothing to fear and the accused everything to lose.
I understand that we want to stay safe and continue to remain on campus with in-person classes for the semester, but reporting each other is not our golden ticket that allows us to stay. Therefore, I think it is not only beneficial but necessary to take away students’ ability to anonymously report each other.
We must find other ways to give each other grace and understanding during this time. We must encourage each other to keep this community and city safe. Yet we mustn't recklessly bring about disciplinary action.
I understand that anonymity allows students to speak in situations that they would otherwise not feel comfortable doing so, but this method has not had the positive effect that I believe the administration imagined it would. Furman has proved its agility over the past year by adapting to the many challenges brought on by COVID. I believe this is a situation in which they can again prove their adaptability — anonymity is a dangerous thing.