Important Message about Using Social Media for Cyber-bullying, Threats

Over the past week, school districts throughout San Diego County, including San Diego Unified, have been addressing a troublesome social media phone app that many students are downloading and using called Burnbook. This app allows “anonymous” posts associated with high schools and universities throughout the county. Unfortunately, the purpose of this app is to post negative information, to post critiques of fellow students and mean things about people.

While students may think their posts are completely anonymous, with Wi-Fi use and cell towers, posts can be traced back to the phone and/or computer that posted the comments. It is important for students to know that all posts on any platform of social media never disappear and are never fully anonymous. This includes personal information, photos and any form of threat.

When students post threatening or any other types of inappropriate messages (pornographic content, harassment, bullying, etc.) they can and will be charged by the school and/or local law enforcement. There have been several arrests of juveniles this past week as a result of threatening posts on Burnbook.

Threats are not jokes. They are considered a felony, a crime that may be punishable by imprisonment. In addition to criminal punishment, students who make threats will be referred for expulsion from school. The sharing of pornography involving minors and harassment are also punishable under the law.

We are encouraging all students to delete the app and continue to focus their energies on increasing their positive anti-bullying activities. Our anti-bullying policy expressly prohibits bullying, harassment, or intimidation of any kind. We encourage students to report bullying via our anonymous Students Speaking Out line at 888-580-8477 in keeping with our safe schools program.

Parents are encouraged to review with their child our district’s Student Internet Acceptable Use policy, which outlines the access provided to students within our schools, along with students’ responsibilities for acceptable and prohibited uses. We hope parents will take this opportunity to discuss online social media with their students. We also recommend that parents periodically review the content on their student’s phone, including apps and photos.

The San Diego Unified School District partners with the San Diego Police Department and the San Diego Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force to help students and families monitor and manage social media. For resources to assist you in talking to your child about safe online behavior, please visit or to learn more.