Everything you need to know about the most controversial app around

It’s been almost 11 years since the release of Mean Girls, and you’d think we’d have learned our lesson about “Burn Books” since then… but apparently not all of us. A controversial new app called “Burnbook” allows its users to make anonymous comments about people, and is, for all intents and purposes, the “Burn Book” from the movie adapted for the digital age. The free app allows users to navigate through different communities, schools, and meeting points that are in their immediate areas in order to leave anonymous comments about people in their lives without being caught.

Developers are comparing this new app to the recently trending app Yik Yak, which also allows users to make anonymous comments based on the area they live in. Burnbook differs from it in that it can get eerily specific with location, so there is oftentimes no mistaking who a particular message is aimed at. The app describes itself: “Jokes, fails, wins, sightings, shout outs, revelations, proclamations and confessions — they all happen on Burnbook. Together, we can keep a secret.” But unfortunately, the app seems to have steered away from these initial intents and toward yet another outlet for cyber-bullying.

Their defense is that nobody below the age of seventeen is able to download the app, but app store regulations are too easily avoided to truly cut off access. Parents and students around the nation have responded in a curious way, though: By going straight to the source, and trying to spread as much positivity on Burnbook as they can. People have been leaving anonymous and encouraging messages that people will then “upvote” using the in-app flagging system so that they become more visible than the bullies the app attracts.

The Burnbook app is still young, so it’s hard to tell exactly what direction it will ultimately take. A source of encouragement for some might be a source of total derailment for others. Still, you can’t help but question exactly what kind of audience the app makers were trying to target when they named this after an infamous symbol of bullying — hopefully this will be an opportunity for users to reclaim it and use it for something good.

(Images from here.)