Fans of Tina Fey's brilliant comedy "Mean Girls" may recall the "burn book"—a catalogue of insults about students and teachers that led to total teenage chaos when it was discovered.
While burn books are nothing new to the school library or lunch table, these days you probably won't find such a tangible tome that lists who has a big butt, bad hair or stinky armpits. The reality is that such public slams are much more likely to end up on social media.
Twitter is one place in cyberspace that modern burn books are finding a home. As reported in Lancaster Online, multiple schools in Pennsylvania are dealing with this problem. One example comes out of Manheim township, where the Twitter handle @ManheimBurnBook took jabs at local student and teachers.
Concerned parents alerted local police departments to this new form of cyberbullying, and Twitter has suspended some of the accounts after complaints were levied. Manheim's Twitter burn book was eventually taken down, but not before amassing more than 400 student followers, according to Lancaster Online.
"This absolutely is cyberbullying. This is what it's about," local police Detective John Schofield told Lancaster Online, adding that his department has fielded five phone calls about another burn book on Twitter. "It could rise to a criminal charge."
Some of the burn book postings are so lewd, they indeed may qualify as criminal activity.
"I can't charge someone for being a jerk, but I could see someone crossing over that line and we'd end up having to file charges," Lancaster County district attorney Craig Stedman told Lancaster Online.
Other states where Twitter burn books have popped up include South Carolina, Georgia and Arizona.