Parents in Princeton and surrounding Collin County communities have devised a plan to deter cyberbullies on a controversial app called Burnbook.
The app allows users to post comments anonymously that only other users nearby can read. It’s primarily used among teenagers and young adults, according to its creator, Jonathan Lucas.
On Wednesday, someone posted a threat on the app to shoot up Princeton High School. The threat prompted a lockdown and extra security.
Parents were made aware of the app by news of the lockdown. They tell NBC 5 they downloaded it and saw cyberbullying and threats.
“One of the posts that I saw today is a kid rallying, asking to start a riot within our school system in Farmersville,” said parent Cindie Stanley. “I’m disgusted by some of the posts. I’m sad for these kids whose names are being humiliated.”
“It’s anonymous, so they’re saying a lot of things that they would not say if they had their name behind their words,” said parent Jamee Cook.
Cook and other mothers have started an online campaign to instead fill the app’s message boards with positive comments. The hope is that it will be a deterrent for students.
“If it’s going to be hard to get rid of the app, then maybe we should try to deter the kids from being on there. If their parents are on there and they know that there are a lot of parents on there, then they’re going to be less likely to get on the app and post things that they know we’re reading,” said Cook.
Local districts are getting involved as well. Officials from Melissa ISD and Farmersville High School posted warnings about the app on their Facebook pages. Anna ISD posted on its Facebook page that if the negative comments on Burnbook didn’t stop, students’ cell phone privileges would be revoked.
The app’s 23-year-old creator told NBC 5 that his team will roll out a new comprehensive filter on Saturday.
He said posts will be pre-approved and filtered for context.
His team won’t stop commenters from using vulgar language while expressing opinions, however he said they will not approve comments that defame individuals by name.