Popularity of the controversial Facebook page NYU Secrets has risen as NYU students anonymously offer up their embarrassing stories and hilarious anecdotes.
The Facebook page — which has garnered over 35 thousand likes in four years — has become well-known among students and faculty. The site allows visitors to anonymously submit secrets to the page’s administrator in the hopes that they will be published.
The newest keeper of the Violets’ secrets has stayed out of the limelight since the page returned in Fall 2016. Adopting a similar approach to her predecessor, Aristo, who was outed by NYU Local in August of 2014, the current administrator has opted to go by the moniker “Admin.”
Washington Square News sat down with the current admin to discuss her new role and her thoughts on the page. As a condition of the interview, she requested to keep her identity anonymous.
Washington Square News: Who are you when you’re not simply the admin of NYU Secrets?
NYU Secrets: I’m a junior here at NYU. I started in Liberal Studies and transferred to Gallatin. My concentration is vaguely based around the Journalism track. When I’m not managing the page some of the things I like to do are running, going to new restaurants or just going around the city. I also really love writing; it’s my passion in life.
WSN: How did you become the admin of NYU Secrets?
Secrets: Back in 2015, when [Aristo] was looking for a new admin, I applied. I forget if I got through one or two rounds, but I ended up not getting it at first. A few weeks ago, I was at my internship and I was scrolling through Facebook and I was like, “Wow, I really miss this. I mean, there are some secrets that I have that I wish I could anonymously share with the world; I really wish this would come back.” So I added him [Aristo] on Facebook and I sent him a message.
Surprisingly, within an hour he friended me back and had messaged me saying “Hey, I remember you. Well, what about this, what if you take over the actual page.” I had a bunch of questions for him, and I totally didn’t think that I was going to start immediately, but after we had been talking for about a half-hour he said “So, do you want to start now?” I was like “Uhhhh,” but the rest is history!
WSN: What does NYU Secrets mean to you and what do you think it means to the other members of the
Secrets: When I was a freshman — and even before I came to NYU — I would look at the page and see all posts and I felt like it was a really good way of bonding; that it was a really good way of forming a community at a school that doesn’t really have a community.
People make fun of [the page], but I know it means a lot to people. I have had many people message me already and say ‘Thank you so much for this page; it really means a lot to me.’ I think people find solace in knowing they’re not alone. It’s also just something that’s fun to do, and I don’t think that most people take it too seriously. It generally does more good than harm in my eyes.
WSN: Does anyone in your personal life know that you’re the admin of NYU Secrets?
Secrets: Yeah, basically, the sort of ‘rule’ that I’ve had with telling people is if they were to message the page and say something anonymously that’s really personal that I probably shouldn’t know, would it cause a problem in our friendship? That’s the question I’ve been using to decide whether to tell my friends.
WSN: Have you had any close calls when it comes to maintaining your anonymity?
Secrets: Oh yes, definitely. I’m a little new at this, so I’m still sort of getting the hang of moderating a page through the Pages App on Facebook. When you go to comment or post something, there’s an option that will be like ‘Comment as this person’ or ‘Comment as NYU Secrets.’ Sometimes I’ll accidentally comment on a post that I meant to comment on personally as NYU Secrets, and vice-versa.
Also, sometimes, if I’m in class and I go to Facebook just to see how things are going, it says on the side of your Facebook page “Pages That You Manage,” and so of course on mine it says “NYU Secrets.” And sometimes people sitting behind me in class will see that and I’ve had [to] be like, “I’m so sorry. Please don’t say anything, please!”
WSN: There have been various controversies surrounding your decision to publish various ‘secrets’ that contain politically charged rhetoric and/or language that some deem offensive. What approach do you take when it comes to deciding what to publish and what not to?
Secrets: That’s been pretty hard on me lately, especially because we’re in such a crazy political climate and there’s been some pretty wild, hateful stuff going on. I was a huge supporter of Bernie Sanders, and then I was a supporter of Hillary Clinton, so a lot of this stuff has been really hard for me to watch. But I know that, as somebody with journalistic experience, I try to make it as balanced as possible, though lately I haven’t been super great at that, just because there’s been a lot of hate towards me after some of the more controversial posts I’ve made.
Lately I’ve been more left-leaning, but in the beginning I was posting a lot of conservative-leaning secrets, and that was because I was trying to counteract what I knew was my own bias. I ended up overcompensating a little bit. I even had some of my friends say “Hey, chill with the conservative stuff.”
WSN: Could you talk about the effect reading all of NYU’s deepest and darkest secrets has had on your view of the student body as a whole?
Secrets: When I first started, I thought I was going to be more judgmental. But actually, by my first or second day it had gotten to a point where some of the people who were sending me secrets were people that I knew, and some of these were really big secrets. Yet it didn’t phase me at all. I feel like the page has sort of taught me that you can never truly judge anyone, because you have your own shit too. Everybody has secrets and there’s nothing to be ashamed of, because more often than not you’re not the only person having that experience.
A version of this article appeared in the Monday, Jan. 23 print edition of Washington Square News and online.