Streetchat hits GHS

KAYLA LANE, Staff Writer

Problems developed at Gloucester High this week after the social media app Streetchat spread like wildfire.  Streechat is an anonymous photo message board where users can post pictures and write comments anonymously. Some students have taken this too far by posting derogatory pictures of students, as well as teachers and administrators.

“Unfortunately, it is being used to post hurtful and offensive messages about peers, teachers and community members,” said G.H.S. Principal Mr. Erik Anderson in an all-call to parents Monday night.  “The Streetchat app site associated with Gloucester High School has turned into, primarily, a forum used to cyber-bully and cyber-harass.”

Streetchat uses GPS coordinates to identify the location of both a user and surrounding schools. At the time of this publication, the app ranks Gloucester High School in the top 12 in terms of usage by school. Last week GHS was ranked number two for usage.

“I thought it was funny at first, until it started getting a bunch of likes,” said GHS senior Alex McDonald,  who had a picture posted of him. “I made sure people flagged it so it could get deleted.”

On Streetchat, a user can “like” or “dislike” pictures. When a picture gets enough “dislikes”, it is flagged and removed.

Mrs. Rachel Rex, a science teacher at Gloucester High School , was also pictured on Streechat.   “I was horrified, embarrassed, and afraid that people would judge me based on this picture,” said Rex.

Rex says she was not hurt by the words, but she is worried she will not be taken seriously by students and parents because of the photo. Rex also worries this app may cause someone to seriously harm themselves.

“I don’t understand why people take fun in victimizing others,” said sophomore Carly Cucuru who had the app but deleted it. “I felt guilty looking at it.”

GHS history teacher Mr. Rich Francis had his senior picture posted on the app.  “The picture was not offensive so it didn’t really bother me,” said Francis. “What bothers me is when students are using their phones during class time, instead of doing what they’re supposed to do.”

 The Gloucester Police Department is aware of the situation, and the  IT department has taken action to control the use of Streetchat in school.

“We blocked the website Streetchat from our internal network, which we have ultimate control over,” said Networks Systems Administrator Mr. Paul Donovan.  The school can not block Streetchat from mobile devices because they get a cellular signal over which IT has no control.

The IT department has requested a GeoFence from Streetchat – which will block the app at each school location in Gloucester.

“This app is causing serious implications for our school community,” said Anderson in a recent email to families and staff.  “In addition to possibly being bullying and harassment, taking unauthorized photographs, often altering them in some way, and often with derogatory or disgusting comments, is illegal, and it couldn’t be more serious or taken more seriously.”