Spotted at UTM (@spottedatutm2.0) is an Instagram confession page where unidentified UTM students can send anonymous messages that are then posted for others to see. The account is a vortex of over seventeen thousand nameless submissions concerning academic advice, love and relationships, buying or selling of textbooks, finding people on campus, and any random opinions, thoughts, or questions.
Its more than three thousand fan base includes students, academic societies, campus clubs, and even the official University of Toronto Mississauga Instagram account. The page is currently run by two administrators who post anonymous submissions that are sent through DMs (direct messages) or the Sarahah website daily. The administrators refer to themselves as ‘female admin’ and ‘male admin’ to maintain their anonymous identity.
Despite the page’s overall secrecy, the account boasts a strong sense of unity and support. Spotted 2.0 acts as a safe haven for students to be heard, ask questions, connect with others, and laugh together. One recent submission asked, “Best place to make out – Anonymous” to which students commented “Tim Hortons lineup at DV,” “Ib110,” “In the comfort of your own home,” and “by the trash cause that’s where ya tuition dollars going… why you no study.”
Spotted at UTM continues to thrive as a prominent source of community and as a trusted confidant to thousands of students. However, nobody knows how the page was created, why it started in the first place, and most importantly, who is behind it. The Medium contacted Spotted at UTM for an insider interview. Here’s what we learned:
On January 8, 2020, an Instagram story update was posted: “Both the female Admin and I are saddened by the news regarding the passing of the U of T students on the plane crash. If anyone needs help rn, or at any point, we’d be beyond happy to help – ya boi, male admin.”
Earlier that day, the female and male admin met me in Library Study Room 8 for their first-ever reveal. In order to conduct the interview, The Medium had to agree not to reveal the names of the admins, and therefore, they are referred to as Female Admin and Male Admin in this article.
Female Admin shared that it wasn’t easy running the page while keeping up with her studies, work, and family life:
“In the first semester, when we first started, there were kinks [that] we had to work out,” Female Admin admits. “Sometimes I would be posting all of [the posts], or [Male Admin] would be posting all of them. I got busy with classes because I had a full course load, and he was posting them all the time. I felt so bad, so I said ‘Okay, let’s do alternating days. Or when you have more classes, I’ll do them, or when I have more classes you can do them.’”
“I didn’t have exams to worry about [so] that gave me a lot of free time,” Male Admin adds.
“We help[ed] each other out, switch[ed] it up, and if there was a concerning DM, we asked each other [for advice],” Female Admin continues.
“There was a lot of teamwork,” Male Admin concludes.
The two admins disclose that managing Spotted 2.0 was a learning experience. “Like with anything, you can’t really know for sure [how it’ll work out] until you start doing it,” Male Admin states. But how did the Spotted ‘torch’ get passed on to them in the first place?
“I saw [Spotted 2.0] somehow in first year, whether it came across my feed or someone sent it to me. When I saw it, I thought [the page was] amazing! I started to follow the page, and—this is cheesy—but I fell in love,” shares Male Admin.
Female Admin reports a similar experience. What began as an accidental discovery resulted in an irresistible obsession with Spotted 2.0. “[In] first year, I stalk[ed] all the U of T accounts, and then my Explore page [recommended] all these U of T related accounts.” Female Admin got “obsessed” with the anonymous confessions page. “I would go through all the posts one by one, thinking, ‘Oh are they talking about me?’ or, ‘Do I know this person?’”
“[Then] the two admins before us were like ‘Oh, school work is getting a lot,’ so they wanted to pass the page onto someone. They posted a story and said ‘We’re looking for two new admins and if you’re interested, shoot us a DM!’ My friend sent me the story saying ‘I think this is something you’d be good at, you say funny s***.’ I sent [the admins] a cheesy line like ‘It’s me! I’m the one you’re looking for!’”
Female Admin continues, “I don’t know why they chose me. Mine was such a short line compared to [Male Admin] who put his heart and soul into it. I used a line from Grey’s Anatomy.”
Male Admin shows me the original DM that got him the job. “They wrote specific questions so I wanted to answer them.” A brief scroll through Male Admin’s phone displays multiple messages containing bullet points regarding all the reasons he thought he should be the page’s admin. One of them reads “I can keep a secret.”
The page receives hundreds of submissions every day, and therefore, managing Spotted 2.0 is no easy task. Male Admin discloses that filtering posts and intentional captions are often needed when addressing “racist, misogynist, or homophobic” submissions. “When some people send a message and don’t see it posted, [they get] upset. But I have made it very clear that if it’s an offensive post, I won’t share [it].”
Male Admin asserts that they have a systematic method to sort through the submissions—to know which have been posted already and to make sure that none were missed. He explains that “when people [say] ‘Oh you didn’t post my confession!’ [my reply is] ‘Sorry dude, if I didn’t post one that was sent, it’s because it shouldn’t have been posted.’”
Female Admin mentions a situation regarding hateful submissions they previously had to deal with. “There was this guy, [who I] know because he’s in my program. He DM’d Spotted one day [and] was like, ‘Hey, people have been sending these posts about me, can you delete them or stop posting them?’” Female Admin “didn’t want [him] feeling bad about [him]self,” so she deleted all the posts about him.
“One day, an anonymous message came in about him that was really rude. I [didn’t think] this [was] a friendly thing, so I still posted the message, but I altered it because I want[ed] this person to feel good about themselves. I added one word [and] changed the caption. The [person who had submitted the original post] messaged me [angrily, asking why I had changed it].”
“This isn’t a page to bully people, this is a page to become a community. UTM is a small campus. I want everyone to feel happy about themselves. This isn’t a page to promote hate.”
When asked about their most memorable experiences as Spotted administrators, Female Admin shares, “We have regulars that DM us all the time—almost every day or twice a week. We have conversations with them, so there’s memorable people.”
However, Female Admin mentions that memorable DMs are often the ones that cause worry. “We’ve had some [posts] about forced marriage, or someone who wants to commit suicide.”
“I remember we posted one day, and then Campus Police reached out to us saying, ‘Someone posted this thing about suicide. Do you know who this person is?’ And we didn’t know who it was because it was through the anonymous page, so we had to contact Sarahah [and] post stories.”
“The person [who posted about suicide then] messaged us saying ‘I’m okay now, these comments I got on the post were really helpful.’”
Male admin recalls, “I just came home from work, and I saw the missed call. I didn’t recognize the number. I called it up, or I searched the number, and it was the Peel Police Services. I was like, ‘Oh, s***.’ The police said they somehow found our page and saw that particular post. I was just like, yeah, ‘I don’t know who it is, I’ll try and figure it out.’”
Following this incident, the admins began intentionally addressing submissions confessing depression, suicidal ideation, or other distresses with extra caution. A recent post from January 7 reads, “I think I’m getting depressed. I wanted to do a lot this whole winter break but ended up lying on my bed. I want to do stuff and be productive, but I physically feel so unmotivated and just feel sad all the time. Please help me – Anonymous.”
The admins responded with a caption that says, “UTM has services that can offer professional support. If you aren’t comfortable, you can always talk to/spend time with friends which can help tremendously.” Other students also responded supportively, with comments such as “Hey! I’m here to help you! Please dm me,” “Hmu,” and “Sessional depression is a real thing.”
It is important to remember that the two admins behind the Spotted 2.0 page are first and foremost students. They study among us in the same buildings, eat at the same cafeterias, and complete assignments at the same library. “At first it was kind of crazy thinking that people [that] I don’t even know, know me,” admits Female Admin.
Male Admin adds, “Once I was at the downstairs library in the basement and I was just doing my work. I had taken my headphones out because I couldn’t use it to listen to music when charging my phone, and a few minutes later the people at the same table started talking about the page. And I was just sitting there trying not to freak out.”
“There have been people who have sent posts like, ‘I have a crush on the male admin!’ When I saw that the first time, my caption was like ‘OMG, OMG, holy crap!’”
What is the future of Spotted 2.0? Female Admin says that she hopes to pass the role on within the next year or two when school, work, and family responsibilities become harder to balance.
Male Admin shares, “This is as difficult as my degree is going to get for me thankfully. So as long as I enjoy [being the admin] or as long as I graduate, whichever comes first, [that] is when I’ll say, ‘Okay. It’s time for me to move on.’”
Both admins hope that Spotted 2.0 will continue to grow in terms of outreach and engagement. “[We hope] that people know that [the page] is a safe place where you can share your thoughts, or where if you have questions, you can DM us.”
“And that the next admins don’t destroy our legacy, or whatever.”
(Female Admin) is a second-year science student (specific field of study omitted) who is considering additional studies in education or psychology. She considers herself a quiet person who sticks to herself and keeps to a small group of friends. Interesting fact: She’s from a very large family with eight people including three sisters and two younger brothers.
(Male Admin) is a third-year political science student whose goal is to attend graduate school in education or law school. He has family members in teaching and is in contact with his previous high school teachers who all inspire him to enter the education field. At UTM, he’s worked as a calculus teaching assistant. Interesting fact: He has a second-degree black belt in Taekwondo.