It's called formspring.me. Walnut Creek Intermediate Principal Kevin Collins says formspring.me is becoming an increasingly popular place for middle and high school students to network and socialize, and to also say things to one another that are obscene, demeaning, and harassing.
"We have seen postings from current and former students that include horrible language, boasts about unsafe behaviors, and threats to other students," Collins says. He adds that the postings on formspring.me has caused some issues between WCI students, but he believes it is more widely used among high school students.
According it its Wikipedia site, formspring.me launched on November 25, 2009 and has already become a hit--and a source of controversy. Last month, an argument over formspring.me led to fight breaking out in a high school in Pennsylvania. Insulting comments posted about a 17-year-old Long Island girl may have led to her suicide in late March (Alexis Pilkington, at right, received many vicious taunts on social networking sites, notably formspring.me, prior to her death, news reports say).
"Unlike some other sites, its business model is not easy to discern," Colins said. "The other key feature is that there does not seem to be any ability to filter or report abuse on the site."
Its business model, such as it is, is a Question and Answer form. That is, friends--and enemies--post questions or comments to people's formspring pages. The owner of the page--or user of the service--answers back.
That lack of filter, or of self-restraint, seems pretty evident among these selections of exchanges that took place on the formspring page of a Walnut Creek girl, a student at one of our high schools.
Here is a series of Q and A's posted in the past couple days her page. The "Q" is the "guest" or "reader" posting the question to the user of the page; the "A" is the user's response.
Q: go back to your moms vachina
A: no thaaanks:)
Q: ok, here he here he...ur a lesbian motherf-----. i f----- hate your [deleted; racial epithet] ass. my asss you dont comment on random peoples pics...no one likes you PERIOD
A: wtf, why you stalking me nd watching every move i make on facebook? thats just creepy
Q: don't "what tha f---" me bitch. i straight up said it. you obviously know that you have flirted with someone's man. you little ugly bitch needs to back the f--- off because NO ONE respects a home-wrecker.
A: calm yur ass budd, i said what tha f--- cuz i didnt know what home wrecker meant. nd if youu think im flirting with yur man, which im probably not, then tell me somehow who youu are so i can stop "flirting" with yur boyfriend
Q: BACK THE F---- OFF OF MY BOYFRIEND!!
A; whoaa, s--- im not doin anything with anybody. im juss talkin, nd yur probably juss takin it tha wrong way :)
According to formspring.me's terms of service, users must be at least 13 years old. The terms also tell prospective users: "You understand that in using the formspring.me service you may encounter content that may be deemed objectionable, obscene or in poor taste, which content may or may not be identified as having explicit language. The formspring.me service allows for anonymous content which formspring.me does not monitor. You agree to use the formspring.me service at your own risk and that formspring.me shall have no liability to you for content that you may find objectionable, obscene or in poor taste."
Users must agree to not engage in any illegal activity--and to not "transmit any pornographic, obscene, offensive, threatening, harassing, libelous, hate-oriented, harmful, defamatory, racist, illegal or otherwise objectionable material or content."
Hmm. It looks like some of these Walnut Creek students have possibly violated the formspring.me's terms of service. Oh, but maybe they are just joking around with each other, and this is just how teens hassle one another, but in a friendly way. Is that possible?
Before I close, check out this exchange between a male Walnut Creek student and one of his readers/friends/enemies/hookups:
Q: "You're a f------ a------ and you're full of s---. You're desperate as f--- and you'll hook up with any bitch that wants to give you head. F--- you.
A: um im sorry ur a stupid bitch and u expect me not to flirt with other girls when u r like hooking up with other guys. your f------ crazy, strait crazy. u cant expect me to not when ur getting around so stfu u f------ hypocrite and i wont hook up with annny bitch, only fine ones :