By Naomi Clarke
Durfess officially suspended posting anonymous submissions at around 7pm on Thursday night.
The confessions page posted to their 13,000 followers that “following recent conversations, we are suspending all posts to Durfess at this time.”
Durfess told Palatinate: “We anticipate and are continuing that it will be a temporary suspension. We will be returning with college war as soon as we can.”
During this period the page stated they are going to be “chatting to our counsel, making sure that our position in the face of pressure is steadfast and established.”
On the Facebook post announcing the suspension, the anonymous submission page cited that they wanted to “comment on the accusations of being biased to the left (or to the right)” before their absence.
Durfess stated: “Our moderation team is comprised of individuals from all backgrounds, it has 8 members of both sexes, home and international students, individuals in the Union and those outwith, and of course individuals from across the political spectrum.
“Frankly, we just see a lot more complaints about certain groups than others. We made a specific effort to ensure that similar criticisms about lacks of diversity and meddling in elections were posted about both groups being discussed. [pictures of DULC outside library are a good example of this].
“Durfess has never, and will never collude with organisations to ensure a blanket political message – the legal conversations this week should demonstrate that quite conclusively.”
Durfess reiterated to Palatinate how they “hope to ensure that our platform remains as influence free as possible, we are managed by a student team of magnitude who range in background in every way imaginable – despite this, we are united in our desire for an open platform to connect Durham students.
“It’s in the interests of the continued existence of that platform to ensure that it can survive potential action against it from anybody. The recent drama has unfortunately expedited this need for security.”
Controversy with Durfess arose last week after a photo of DUCA (Durham University Conservative Association) members was posted. This post was gradually blurred out and later removed.
In a private message to Durfess, seen by Palatinate, a member of the group said: “I’m depicted in Durfess post #9175 without explicit consent in a post which marks a departure from not posting pics of students.”
Durfess posted yesterday clarifying their stance on the Durham Union. They said: “DUCA and DUS are not interchangeable terms. They are two completely separate societies.”
They continued: “No individual representing the Durham University Conservative Association executive has ever threatened us with litigation.
“An officer of the Durham Union Society, claiming to represent the DUS, made comments to this page [Durfess] implying their intention to initiate action in a legal context. That individual was acting in direct contradiction to the wishes of the Durham Union Society and that issue had been dealt with, and no legal action has been brought to us since.”
On Monday, Durham Union Society released a statement to their page in regards to the situation: “Let us be clear in stating that the Union is fundamentally committed to free speech for all and the right for anyone to post on Durfess.”
They continued: “At the same time, it is vital that the ongoing presidential election is run in a free and fair manner. In the interest of fairness between the prospective candidates, we ask that posts aren’t made with the aim of directly interfering with the election or campaigning in favour of one side or another.
“The Union’s Rules Committee met today to scrutinise nominations and ensure they complied with the election regulations and notice of election. If anybody wants to raise any issues around the approval process or election, they should contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Any official appeals or complaints can be sent to email@example.com”
Photograph from Durfess