Blog Post

PostSecret Fans in Uproar Over NBC Show

Fans of PostSecret are steamed at NBC and they are letting their fury loose in the NewTeeVee comments. The uproar was sparked yesterday when PostSecret linked to a story we wrote earlier this month about NBC launching an upcoming online series called Fears, Secrets and Desires.

We pointed out in our original story that the premise of NBC’s show was similar to that of PostSecret in that users submit their fears, secrets and desires. Only instead of an artistic post card, NBC would create a series of videos around the submissions, using Hollywood talent to bring them to life.

In its blog update on Sunday, PostSecret founder Frank Warren posted the following email message he received:

Hey Frank,

Ever notices how the (corporate owned) media reports on big companies that prosecute people for “stealing” music and other creative content from the web. But you never read any stories about the corporations like 3M and NBC that pirate from PostSecret and other websites.

“NBC” in the post linked back to our initial coverage on NewTeeVee. PostSecreters’ reactions were swift and litigious. Here are some sample comments:

And NBC has the nerve to call “Fears, Secrets and Desires” an NBC Web Original. It’s not an original, it’s a blatant rip off that’s going to pander to the lowest common denominator. It won’t be Post Secret- it will be Jerry Springer. NBC, for shame. Post Secret should sue.

BOO!!! Boycott NBC until they own up to and compensate (IE: Hopeline donations etc) Frank and the Post Secret Community for stealing their ideas!!! FOR SHAME!!!

Way to rip off PostSecret. Yea… NBC is not original or clever. Hurray people who can’t think of a good idea themselves! Go get ‘em Frank! Sue them!

Warren, who founded the site back in 2005, is currently traveling and could not be reached for comment.

For its part, an NBC spokesperson said that its online series was based on a TV show called Fear Itself, and said it would provide more details in a statement later today. We’ll update you when that happens.

What do you think? Has NBC ripped off the idea from the web, or is the idea for this show general enough to have happened on its own?

57 Responses to “PostSecret Fans in Uproar Over NBC Show”

  1. Hmmm, the show sounds boring and like every other boring reality show on air. It will turn into people trying to one-up each other with complete fabrications without any fail, because shows like this appeal to people who wouldn’t know art or truth if it bit them on the nose.

    I’m mildly surprised NBC was the chump network to ripoff PostSecret, though. I’d have thought that was more Fox style. Why’d you have to sink so low, NBC?

  2. I’m not so much disgusted that a television network stole someone else’s idea; this seems to happen all the time now and is nothing unusual, but more that people are actually now trying to… /merchandise/ the post secret community. The secrets submitted to the PostSecret are sincere and beautiful, and this just sounds like another creepy, voyeuristic, reality TV show that poses as being ‘open’ and ‘artistic’.
    Same old idea, just using the PostSecret identity to try and legitimise it…

  3. Chris Mier

    It will be a sad day when a tv network reduces real human emotions to charicatures and stereotypes for monetary gain. Oh wait, that’s pretty much all they do.

  4. Never doubt the ability of corporate media to find a way to make money off every single idea. The beauty of PostSecret is that the postcards are genuine and made by the people with the secret themselves. Turning over the creative work to script-writers, actors and directors robs the secret of the thing that make it a secret: how personal it is.

    People, including myself, who read PostSecret feel a connection with the person who writes the secret through their expression of it in postcard form. Does NBC really think they can achieve the same connection with mass-produced film segments on a television program? TV is not a personal medium (the postcard is) and hence is an entirely unsuitable medium for the “secrets” message.

  5. The PostSecret blog is a wonderful place for people to share their sincere secrets. Frank has refused advertising to protect the sincerity of the site– and NBC’s show will prove that taking something to the level where there are shareholders and producers determining what is a “valid” secret will destroy the beauty and peace that is found in sharing secrets with strangers. Nonetheless, the fact that NBC is stealing this idea shows that power that the PostSecret blog has had— congrats to Frank for maintaining his stance against advertising on his site. And I hope that NBC will reconsider.

  6. SecretKeeper

    NBC should back down on this “original idea” – it’s not original and it’s not their idea. Besides, Salon Confessions is so much more appealing (sarcasm)

  7. Konstantine.

    NBC can’t pull it off. After PostSecret’s success, with all the things revolving around it, including the PSCommunity, NBC can’t just step in and ruin it for so many people. It would commercialise PostSecret and ruin it to alleged “secrets” that are just a reason to tell an interesting untrue story and lie. Give up NBC, it’s not worth it.

  8. Charon Gall

    I don’t believe that NBC is stealing, since they are using actors to portray the secrets in a completely different form of art. I can see how they received inspiration from Post Secret, but it’s not the same thing therefore not stealing.
    However, this show sounds as if it won’t be very entertaining and the only reason there will be any sort of following is due to the viewer’s direct involvement with the show. People will watch just to see if their secret made it on air, they won’t necessarily watch because they enjoy the show itself.

  9. I would suggest, NBC, that if you ARE going to do this show, that you offer PostSecret a large settlement of cash and acknowledgment RIGHT now…not because “they might sue you”, but because it is the right thing to do. Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but unless it is acknowledged and compensated, it is plagiary. PostSecret is a communal work of art, so you think it doesn’t belong to anyone, but you are wrong. It belongs to ALL of us, and we don’t want you stealing it.

  10. Modern technology would never have been invented if people hadn’t taken other people’s ideas and tweaked them. Maybe they are piggy backing off of Post Secret (which I love, and have even before it became popular) But, they are clearly taking it in a different direction, and who knows, this new direction may create a media revolution. It’d be different if they were just filming secrets cut out from PS’s books, but they aren’t.

  11. Samantha

    I’m amazed at how a company can instantly jump on the bandwagon when they believe that they will make money off of it. A few years ago, there was not a word of PostSecret anywhere except the people who one by one were spreading the word. I can’t begin to believe that this show idea is original in any way shape or form. I myself, and hopefully the PostSeret community and art community surrounding it, have lost respect for companies that take ideas for profit and give the truly ORIGINAL people no credit. You’ve taken a sad, sad turn NBC.

  12. it’s lame that nbc would steal something so real … claiming it to be original. and, i agree with the post on the postsecret website … don’t come talking to the rest of us about “stealing” digital media. whatever. a new low … shame on nbc.

  13. Cantras

    So, this will be “send in your secrets, and we’ll make videos of it” … Whether you decide you’re stealing it or not (Personally, yes, I think you may have well called VideoSecret and been a little more blatant), it sounds like it’ll just end up trashy.
    I can’t imagine this show as having anything but the most base, degrading “secrets,” clips formed from reality TV show writers.

  14. The reason Postsecret is so popular is because it’s such a pure form of art and honesty.
    All you get is a postcard to look at. You never see the person behind it or even the full story. It’s so amazingly intriguing and that’s what draws people over and over and over again.
    I’ll be surprised if the show ever succeeds due mainly to the fact that it’ll have to be so unpersonal and probably a bit contrived. It’s a shame that they’d even try to attempt replicating such a pure, touching and personal form of art.
    Fortunately for us, they cannot ever touch Postsecret.

  15. You guys are horrible for stealing this idea for PROFIT. Take it back – my secret is that I work at NBC and I wish they’d be a better company….oh wait, that’s fake, because I would only submit a TRUE secret to, not NBC!!!!! Screw you!

  16. I think it’s horrible how NBC (or any show) automatically thinks that they’re not only ‘original’ but can do BETTER than postsecret.

    Leave P!S where it is and find something new to do. NBC would just screw it up anyway.

  17. Nicole Leigh

    I think this will turn the postsecret idea into a shallow compitition over who can make the worst secret, or whathave you. Why are we marketing people’s mistakes and confessions in such a corporate way? There’s a severe difference bewteen creatively expressing something you are ashamed or proud of, and writing some story to a television company who’s pretty much going to parade it to America. It’ll be some sick popularity contest to see who’s worse off. I think it’s a terrible idea, regardless of how it rips postsecret off.

  18. Once again, peoplecan’t seem to come up with something original. It will be a typical thing where some suit that doesn’t know what the premise is turns it into a dirty little secret show for the thrills, and not something gentle and kind like Post Secret is. How can you ACT a secret fear or desire? Gimme a break, something wonderful due to be trashed again by the so called networks..

  19. this is absolutely absurd.
    NBC is doing something really low here. there is no artistic value in what they are doing. in fact, there is no value in it whatsoever.

    grow up NBC. form your own ideas; don’t steal frank’s.

  20. Brandon

    Putting originality aside, this show sound horrible. Not because it allegedly “ripped” the idea from PostSecret but because it seems like it will become less about the actual stories and more about who appears on the show. To me, it sounds less like an artistic take on an idea and more like a show that will make personal stories impersonal.

  21. This is ridiculous. Hollywood is only going to ruin the pure artistic way secrets are shared. And how can they not think this is rip off? Disgusting. I’m a fan of NBC, but this pisses me off.

  22. Its a tough call, having worked in TV, I can tell you that it isn’t usually the networks that come up with the ideas for new shows, but outside producers who then pitch their ideas to networks. It is totally plausible that a producer ripped off the site and pitched it to NBC which may or may not have known about post secret, but the similarities between them are pretty damning. It will be interesting to see how it plays out.