Admittedly, BurnBook seems to be a dying app, but as far as I can tell, it is very much still available and could see a resurgence. In addition, it is always good to know about this app as there are many similar apps that can, and will, pop up.
The BurnBook app is a social media app that allows for anonymous posting.
In other words, it is designed to promote cyberbullying. I looked the app up on Amazon and the most recent review said, “I love this app, you get to see if people are talking about you.” In other words, you get to see if people are being hurtful. Just what our children need. Another option to cause emotional pain in on another.
Mashable.com has a good review of the app here…
“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.
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.
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.
The Burnbook app is free to download on iOS and Android. You should be over 17 to use it, but iTunes age verification is far from rigorous.
You search for “communities” — schools — near your location, and once you join a community you’re free to post anything on any topic.
The Burnbook blurb suggests “Jokes, fails, wins, sightings, shout outs, revelations, proclamations and confessions — they all happen on Burnbook. Together, we can keep a secret.”
Crucially, it’s anonymous. You don’t need to sign in, and you don’t create a username. As a result, Burnbook gives kids the ability to pick a name, and open up anonymous judgment from the community.