Facebook page ‘Edifess’ sparks controversy over offensive posts

Content Warning: Offensive Language, Racism

On Sunday, 14 October, screenshots from the Facebook page ‘Edifess’ were posted into Edinburgh University Students’ Association’s Black Minority Ethnic (BME) Facebook group showing offensive and racists posts.

The page Edifess, a combination of the words Edinburgh and Confessions, is not an official university page. However, its previous official profile picture holds the University of Edinburgh emblem, and the page has over 1000 likes, mainly from students.

Posts on the page include notes from secret admirers, complaints about university accommodation, as well as other colloquial jargon on general university life and qualms. Messages are sent to the admins of the page, who have remained anonymous, and then posted later on.

Recently, the page has come under fire due to racist posts identified by other users. Posts include comments targeting Asian students at the university, such as, “stay in their own country instead of coming to a country where they can barely speak the language.” There have also been an array of racially motivated jokes, homophobic comments, and posts mocking stereotypes of different countries such as Ethopia.

Whilst some posts have been removed, a large number remain after a recent post by admin stating that “in a society that prides itself on freedom of speech, it is important to find a balance between protecting that right and also protecting our followers’ rights not to feel attacked or offended by any of our content.” Furthermore, the page has changed its profile photo from the university emblem to a black and white silhouette of Edinburgh. This has, unofficially, been said to have been encouraged by university officials contacting admins to remove association with the University of Edinburgh.

Isabella Neergaard Petersen, the BME Liberation Officer at the Students’ Association, has also released a statement to The Student regarding Edifess. She said that “while we recognise the importance of freedom of speech, this does not protect hate speech which harms already marginalised groups. The Edifess page has recently shared several posts which could be categorised as hate speech and their refusal to take responsibility for moderating the anonymous comments they receive is deeply frustrating. We would urge them to consider the significant negative impact seeing these comments on a public forum – where they are receiving likes, comments and shares, has on Black and Minority Ethnic students who are already often made to feel like outsiders at this institution”.

Peterson added that students from the BME Group have continued to report the page.

The Students’ Association’s Sabbatical Officers added:“The Sabbatical Officers were shocked to see these racist posts on Edifess – while freedom of speech is something we support and uphold, it does not protect the use and perpetuation of racist and xenophobic rhetoric.  One of our roles is to represent all students at the University of Edinburgh, including those who are underrepresented both through academia and in society.”

The Student is carrying out a further investigation on this topic.

Image: Stu Smith via Flickr

A previous edition of this article was published without comment from the Students’ Association. Updated: 14:45, 16 October 2018

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