Critics Say ‘Burnbook’ App Exposes Children to Cyberbullying

PHOTO: In the cult hit film, "Mean Girls," the Burn Book was all the gossip. Now, its a cell phone app that is causing school officials and parents concern. Teenage girls are seen here in this undated stock photo.Getty Images
In the cult hit film, "Mean Girls," the Burn Book was all the gossip. Now, it's a cell phone app that is causing school officials and parents concern. Teenage girls are seen here in this undated stock photo.

In the hit cult film, “Mean Girls,” the Burn Book was all the rage. Now, it’s a cell phone app that’s going viral in schools across the nation.

Akin to a local Twitter without the Twitter handles, the Burnbook app lets students find and click on their school and post anonymous comments about anything or anyone.

The app's "terms of service" page on its website clearly states users, "May not use the service to transmit content that is hateful, abusive or otherwise objectionable by Burnbook's users." But Burnbook is under fire from those who say the app is exposing children to cyberbullies.

"For this app in particular, the fact that people are anonymous, the majority of the time they have been negative," said 18-year-old Burnbook user Samantha Zevenbergen.

Tatum Blakeney, a 17-year-old California student experienced this first-hand.

"Somebody said, 'Tatum should get cancer like his mother and die,'" Tatum recalled. "I was very hurt somebody would say that to me."

"That just hit really deep," he said.

Parents are also crying foul.

One San Diego father, who did not want his identity revealed, said his high school-age daughter was a target.

“It’s a dangerous site,” the man told ABC News affiliate KGTV in San Diego, adding that the site has mean-spirited comments and vulgarity. “I think it’s completely wrong.”

A similar app, the "After School," was banned from the App Store in December after users allegedly used the app to threaten school shootings.

Some schools are taking action against Burnbook. The San Diego school district where the unidentified father's daughter attends school – the Poway Unified School District -- sent a message to the parents of middle and high school students to warn them that school and law enforcement charges could result if students posted threatening or inappropriate messages.

“Threats are not jokes,” the school’s message said.