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Gossip site targeting high school students draws criticism

Last Updated Oct 20, 2017 at 6:57 pm EST

A website which publishes gossip about Toronto high school students is drawing criticism online — and raising safety concerns.

Parents on Facebook have been posting messages about Miss Informed, which has been likened to the popular teen TV drama series Gossip Girl.

In the show, a group of privileged teens living in New York are the subjects of an anonymous gossip blog.

Similarly, Miss Informed is registered on an .xyz domain, and the home page advertises itself to be “Your new favourite source for the latest gossip on the social scene at Midtown Toronto high schools, as well as its parties, gossip, stories and finally, its hottest couples and people.”

Students told CityNews the site first emerged in September and has grown in popularity. According to the site, there are 30,000 subscribers.

“Most people think that it’s a bad idea and that it shouldn’t happen, that it’s borderline cyberbullying,” said one student. “Then there’s another half of people that think it’s fun and a good idea, and they send tips.”

The website also encourages students to submit gossip anonymously through the site, social media and by texting a number. The person behind the site also posts about upcoming parties, which is raising safety concerns.

Students said the site featured a gathering at Rosedale Park last month which drew hundreds of kids and resulted in mugging sprees and at least one stabbing.

Not much is known about the person (or people) behind the site.

CityNews sent a text message to the number on the site and received a response saying there was no interest in speaking to media at this time. The text said the site is just “a posting page with filters,” no last names or pictures are used.

“I’m no different than a Facebook group for all the schools that anyone can post on, except I use my skills of writing to make it pretty,” the Miss Informed poster said.

The person said the parties are submitted through the website and there is an effort not to post “morally bad” submissions.

“Obviously bad things, sent in only to hurt someone, or things that might make someone feel attacked, such as someone being gay. I would never post whether they came out or not yet,” the poster said.

There is also a feature on the site that allows for people to remove posts they are mentioned in.

The Toronto District School Board (TDSB) said it’s aware of the site but doesn’t have control over the posts.

“It’s important to note that content posted online that has negative impact on the climate of a school can result in possible disciplinary action in cases where the poster’s identity is known,” said TDSB spokesman Ryan Bird. “In this specific case, the identity of the poster is not known by staff.”

The board is encouraging anyone who has concerns about Miss Informed to contact the site administrator. It is also telling students to reach out to staff at their school if the site is causing problems for them.