Site features dozens of unsubstantiated allegations; take them ‘with a grain of salt,’ moderators say...
A website allegedly run by University of Washington students allows individuals to publicly accuse people of sexual assault with no evidence.
The website, titled “Make them scared UW,” was first registered in November of last year but reportedly launched in late September of this year by University of Washington students, the Daily UW campus newspaper reports.
It appears that the list of accused rapists and sexual assault perpetrators has grown substantially on the site in recent weeks in the wake of the rape claims made against U.S. Supreme Court justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
Meanwhile, one student named on “Make them scared UW” told The College Fix that the allegation is false, that the University of Washington has dismissed the allegations against him as completely uncorroborated and cleared him of any wrongdoing.
Thus far, every person named on the list is male, and their names include the school they attend. Many listed on the site appear to be University of Washington students, but as apparent word of this site has spread, students from many other colleges are now listed, too.
The site does not employ any mechanisms to verify the truth of any accusations it publishes, and the website’s moderators attempt to protect themselves from liability or criticism by stating atop the list of the accused: “Please remember, just because a name is on this list does not mean the individual is guilty. All it means is that we have received an accusation against them.”
The moderators of the website did not respond to The College Fix‘s repeated requests for comment. The Fix sought to learn if the site’s moderators had any concerns about accusations being directed at innocent people, and whether or not the website has received any legal challenges for publishing unverified allegations.
According to the FAQ page of the website, “Make them scared UW” is a “communal rape list.”
It is “intended to be an online hub for anyone who wants to expose the names of their attackers and harassers, and to fill a gap left by inadequate treatment of these cases by formal institutions.”
“One of our site’s moderators will review your submission, verify your contact information, and after receiving your confirmation, publish the information you provided us (minus any personally identifying info) on the list page on our site,” the FAQ page tells individuals who wish to submit an accusation.
“We do not have the ability to determine whether any accused party is guilty or innocent of the accused acts, so take all names listed with a grain of salt,” the site’s front page states.
Via Facebook message, The College Fix managed to contact one student on the list, a young man who was identified as attending the University of Washington. The student denied having sexually assaulted his accuser.
“I was investigated by my school’s office and found that there was insufficient evidence of what she was accusing me of,” he told The Fix. He said the allegation stems from a night in which he and his accuser “both got pretty drunk,” after which he performed oral sex on her. After he attempted to initiate intercourse, his accuser said no, at which point he “backed off,” he said.
“This girl gave the investigator at my school literally everything, our facebook messages, our snapchat messages (she saved all of them), text messages, and even my reddit account and I was deemed to be so not a threat to her that the investigator didn’t even care if I was in the same class as her,” the student said. He said that he wasn’t even aware he was on the “Make Them Scared” list until The Fix contacted him.
Campus spokesman Victor Balta told The Fix that the school has not decided how to proceed on the issue.
“The contents of the website are very concerning, and the UW is committed to our work toward preventing sexual violence and sexual harassment, maintaining support and protections for anyone who experiences such violence, properly investigating and addressing allegations, and upholding due process,” Balta said via email.
Asked if the school was aware if the website is run by students at the University of Washington, Balta said: “We don’t know for certain.”
Asked if false allegations on the site made or posted by students or affiliates of the university would be treated as “harassment” under school policy, Balta said: “If the university received a complaint that an individual was being harassed or bullied by a student, we would investigate it in the same manner as we would any other case.” Balta reiterated that the university is uncertain if the site is run by students.
In an interview with the student newspaper The Daily UW, University of Washington School of Law associate professor Zahr Said said that the website moderators could face “considerable risks of a defamation lawsuit by anyone whose name they mention in connection with a criminal behavior or sexual assault that gives rise to civil liability.”
But the site’s moderators told The Daily: “We hope that anyone whose name was inaccurately posted on our site will let us know so we can remedy the situation. We’ve verified each claim to the best of our ability, and have not published any claims which we believed to be false.”
“The site’s domain name was registered Nov. 29, 2017, with additional security so as not to reveal the identity of the individual who registered it,” The Daily reported.