The Brief: Teenagers are creating "shade room" Instagram accounts for their schools where they share anonymous gossip and confessions.
High school shade room Instagram accounts are the new school confessions accounts. Teenagers have historically used Instagram in creative ways, planning parties, creating their own yearbooks, and sharing gossip via accounts dedicated to these topics.
For the 2020-2021 school year, dozens of new Instagram accounts are popping up across the country which call themselves “shade rooms,” modeled after the celebrity gossip aggregator The Shade Room. In addition to the official Shade Room, the concept has been applied to sources of gossip, drama, and tea online for specific communities like the famous TikTok Shaderoom.
These Instagram accounts allow people to submit anonymous gossip which will then be featured on the page. Reminiscent of the Mean Girls Burn Book and the Gossip Girl blog, these accounts run the risk of facilitating bullying and inciting drama among students. HS shade room IG accounts are often public and use people’s full names in their callouts, which could lead to harassment from fellow students and outsiders.
Much of the gossip on these accounts is about which students are hooking up with each other, a subject that is often intertwined with slut-shaming. As there’s no way to verify if a rumor is true, it’s possible that any number of these statements are false. Some posts deal with more serious accusations, such as allegations of violence, sexual harassment, and racism. Accounts that engage with harassment or bullying targeted at an individual or group would be violating Instagram’s community guidelines. Other content in these shade rooms is much lighter and may include positive comments and playful inside jokes.