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@OVERHEARDAT_SJU

Anonymous Twitter Account Becomes Talk of the Campus

Torch Illustration/Sieta Leon

Torch Illustration/Sieta Leon

Isabella Bruni, Co-News Editor

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They call themselves a “legitimate news source” that works hard to “bring you the best of the best, from the worst of the worst.” If that phrase sounds familiar, you may be one of the many students keeping up with one of St. John’s most talked about Twitter accounts: Overheard at SJU (@overheardat_sju).

Overheard at SJU tweets snippets of actual conversations overheard on campus and includes an on-campus location so followers can picture exactly how a conversation played out. Students can direct message submissions they find funny, ridiculous or shocking, and the account might tweet them out. Although the account is all about St. John’s, it is not affiliated with the university.

The founders, who chose to remain anonymous to protect the image of their account, spilled that they can’t post every submission they receive anymore because they get so many in a day. The day of they spoke to the Torch, they received five submissions, which one founder said was just mildly representative of what they could receive in a day.

The Twitter account is known among students as “Overheard,” and it has 1,233 followers as of Oct. 3— which isn’t too shabby for an account that has yet to turn one year old. According to one of the account’s founders, Overheard was born on Halloween of 2016 at a table in the D’Angelo Center by a group of friends.

“Someone mentioned, wouldn’t it be weird if somebody else overheard us talking?” one of the founders said.

“It started from a place of total egocentric nonsense where we were like, everyone should hear what we’re saying,” another founder added. “And then we’re thinking wait we’re not special, everyone feels that way so it was almost like everyone should hear what everyone is talking about all the time.”

Some of their favorite tweets, which they admitted were difficult to choose, included one about St. John’s student newspaper, the Torch. “[Winter Carnival] ‘THE MEDIA IS CORRUPT’ ‘…the torch is corrupt?” as well as one that is pretty timely, “[the spirit rock] ‘i don’t get it.’” The brackets in the tweet show the location of where the conversation was overheard.

Their overall favorite, which they said first came to mind is from last December, the tweet they believe also got them the most exposure, “[the strip] i hope somehow the rain seeps into the wires on the xmas lights, blows a fuse and everything catches on fire so I can go home.’”

However the tweet that is pinned on their account is what they believe to be epitome of St. John’s: “[168th St] circa 3:45 AM ‘Are you okay man?’ *moans incomprehensibly* ‘We need to get to Double J’s fast.’”

“It’s hysterical, I laugh every time and think about someone saying those things in front of specific buildings,” senior Natalie Chacon said.

Overheard’s quick rise to popularity surprised the founders because, as they said, it all started from a group of friends messing around on Halloween.

“We expected max 20 people to follow us,” one founder said. “We’re exactly like Batman. We’re the hero St. John’s deserves, but not the one it wants.”

“People want to hear what we say, but what we say is what other people say. I walked by somebody and they were talking about overheard, it’s weird to me that people know it,” one said.

They made the point that Overheard is just an account — it’s the students that make it what it is.

“There’s that line in ‘The Office,’ when you put a group of people in front of the camera, they’re bound to do something stupid… You’re gonna get something really funny out of it,” one founder said.

Senior Tshala Pajibo called the account “inventive” and said one of her conversations had been “overheard” and featured on the account.

“It’s a very millennial, for lack of a better word, way of creating a funny space for everyone regardless of where they are or even if they’re still a student here or not,” Pajibo said. “I know some grads who keep up with it too.”

The founders shared exclusively with the Torch that Overheard might expand to a new social media platform, Instagram perhaps. Other universities have similar accounts, like NYU who has a “Snaps of NYU” facebook page, and Overheard wants to aim to be the best one around.

Adjunct Assistant Professor of Media Ethics Martin McGloin shared some of his concerns about the account, his main concern surrounding its anonymity.

“Being anonymous people can say anything and can defame someone. The fact that the person is not mentioning the source, which may be harmless in some respects, is also a concern,” McGloin said.

McGloin also placed an emphasis on the need to fact check. “You don’t have proof these are actual quotes from someone. Ethically, there is no fact checking. It could be made up,” he said.

He made the point that one could argue that a private conversation could be said in a public space, then blurring the lines of what should and should not be said based on location.

Sophomore Kelsie Jenkins-Johnston said of the accounts criticism, “I think it’s cool that it’s becoming more popular, it’s funny so I don’t see why not.”

The founders ended their interview with some advice for students, “Speak louder, we can’t overhear you if you’re quiet.”

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