A mobile app called Burnbook is causing serious disruption at schools throughout San Diego County and nationwide. Burnbook allows users to anonymously post threats, bullying, and pornography. In the last two weeks there have been multiple threats via Burnbook that have resulted in school closures, lockdowns, and shelter-in-place situations in schools across San Diego County, as well as concern and anxiety for parents, families, and students.
Many students believe, incorrectly, that they can anonymously bully, harass, threaten, and hurt other students and staff. They are wrong.
When students post threatening or inappropriate messages for purposes of harassment or bullying, they can and will face serious consequences at their school and may face arrest and prosecution by local law enforcement.
Threats are not jokes, and the perpetrators will not remain anonymous. Their identities are indeed discoverable, and even Burnbook’s developer is now warning that vulgar and threatening posts will be shared with legal authorities.
We are encouraging students to delete the Burnbook app, and we need parents' help to reinforce this message. We ask that parents and guardians periodically review the content on their students’ phones, including apps and photos and talk with their kids about the need to guard their online reputations. Online privacy is an illusion; it is wrong to assume that you will remain anonymous in the digital realm, especially when making threats against anyone.
The responsibility to monitor students’ inappropriate use of social media rests on all of us – parents, teachers, and school administrators alike. For the safety of all of our students, we encourage discussions of safe social media and Internet practices in our schools at home.
Violence against one’s self or others is never the answer. Students feeling they have to hurt someone because they are angry or lost should seek help. Likewise, students who notice any suspicious or threatening behavior on any of these social media platforms should report it to an authority figure. It will immediately be investigated, and if appropriate, reported to law enforcement.
Thank you for your assistance in helping us to stop the disruption these behaviors are causing on our campuses. Together, we can continue to keep our students safe and supported in our community.