Here’s a website that we hope our kids don’t start using during their school break this week: LittleGossip. The site was created in Belize but is most popular, and gaining much notoriety, in Great Britain. Similar to JuicyCampus which was shut down in February 2009, LittleGossip lets users pick their location and school name, and post comments about specific people from their school that other readers can then rate as true or false.
LittleGossip claims that in using its website, it wants users “to create some deep, clean, insightful and interesting conversation.” Unfortunately – and as the site name suggests – the website mostly fosters cyberbullying, as the majority of posts are obscene, threatening, racist, sexual or homophobic. Here’s an example of a recent post: “This douchebag of a gay self righteous little waste of space. And talk about FUUUUGLY!!! Thinks shes the nuts and shes clearly a mutt.” Ouch.
After outrage at the increasing popularity of the site, including a Daily Mail article highlighting its inappropriate content, LittleGossip shut down and reopened as a site for users over 18-years-old. However, all this means is that upon first entering the site, visitors are warned that “You may only enter this Website if you are at least 18 years of age…If you do not meet these requirements, then you do not have permission to use the website.” Users then simply have to click “Agree & Enter” or “Leave Now.” That isn’t really the harshest restriction.
Like all examples of cyberbullying, LittleGossip rumors can remain as anonymous as the bully wants while easily targeting and abusing victims. The anonymity users find online lets bullies be bolder about the content they post, without understanding the full effects of their harmful comments. Take some time while your kids are home from school to talk to them about any cyberbullying incidents they have witnessed or been directly involved in, and make sure they understand how negative sites like LittleGossip can be.
Have you had any exposure to this site? How would you talk to your kids about the dangers of this kind of online forum?