“This app was created to increase cyberbullying. There’s no other reason.”

So begins the current top review on iTunes for the controversial Burnbook app. The social networking service has made headlines across the country in recent weeks for bringing anonymous cyberbullying and threats of violence to American high schools.http://mashable.com/2015/03/26/burnbook-app/

The same reviewer goes on to say, “The app has become popular at my school and is specifically targeting a small group of people. I wish I could repeat the evil things that were posted so I could get my point across, but I cannot bring myself to spread those gruesome things even further.”

Burnbook’s press hasn’t just been about bullying. After a student made a threat via the app that they would bring a gun to Del Norte High School in San Diego, Jonathan Lucas, the CEO and developer of Burnbook, told NBC San Diego changes would be made.

San Diego’s KUSI news quotes Lucas as stating, “We’ve changed out objectionable content. In some cases, we’ve actually contacted the police before they’ve contacted us. Freedom of speech isn’t necessarily freedom of anonymity. Anonymity is a privilege, not a right. I that privilege is abused, there are consequences.”

Those changes won’t apply to the “ordinary,” low-level bullying that appears to be taking place on a daily basis, though. Here’s what parents need to know about the burn book culture, and this new app that perpetuates it.

Burn_Book

Today’s concept of a “burn book” was popularized by the movie Mean Girls, in which a small group of high school students wrote terrible comments about others, and reported rumors and gossip in a physical book.

But digital burn books are nothing new. Students have set up Facebook pages and blogs to create their own versions of burn books in the past, but it could be argued that nothing has reached the same scale of the Burnbook app before.

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