New app ‘Burnbook’ creates breeding ground for cyberbullying

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(PIX11) -- As a parent, you're constantly on the lookout for ways your kids can be bullied. The latest app doing exactly that is called "Burnbook."

The name comes from the classic high school movie "Mean Girls." Launching off the cult status of the film starring Linsday Lohan, this app encourages kids to say anything anonymously about anyone. It's the latest in a parade of social media sites that gives kids the shield of anonymity to hide behind in order to do harm.

Ripped from the pages of a Hollywood screenplay, the developers of Burnbook have given teens another way of bullying each other -- anonymously. The film "Mean Girls" became an instant cult classic, showing how a group of conniving teens turned students on each other.

And in real life, it's not far from the truth. One California school experienced it firsthand when a student posted on the Burnbook site after being cyber-bullied. The student posted "I've had enough. I'm bringing my dad's AR15 to school tomorrow and killing all [of] you." One student said, "how do we know if they're lying or joking around? They could be serious. You don't know."

Burnbook's terms of service page on its website weakly asks users "may not use the service to transmit content that is hateful, abusive or otherwise objectionable." But the film origins of the app's name suggests the exact opposite of that.

The anonymity of the Burnbook site makes it difficult to track down posters, leaving parents and school leaders to worry about just how dangerous the words written can be.

School administrators have warned that charges from law enforcement could result from threats posted. And Burnbook isn't the first app of this type: Kik and YikYak work off the same premise. But social media experts say the popularity of a particular app varies school to school. It's important to know which apps are being used in your child's school, talk to them about the dangers, and get school administrators involved if you see anything objectionable.