California School District Keeping an Eye on Students' Social Network Postings
September 17, 2013 10:15 AM
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A company called Geo Listening will do the monitoring
A California school district has hired a contractor to
monitor the social networks
of students in hopes of pinpointing suspicious behavior.
The Glendale, California school district is paying $40,500 to the company Geo Listening for the social monitoring services. The firm will read Facebook, Twitter and other social network posts by 14,000 middle school and high school students in the district. It will only apply to students ages 13 and up (when parental permission isn't necessary for the school's new monitoring methods).
Geo Listening's exact methods for monitoring the sites or verifying that the students are, in fact, from the school district are unclear. But the firm said it will only view public posts (students can set their posts to private), and it searches for keywords to find any alarming posts. The firm has also learned the lingo of youths to catch those who may be speaking in code or in shorthand. The school is then given a full report of the company's findings.
The district said it is employing this method in order to ensure the safety of its students. For instance, if a student posts about suicide, a fight or bringing weapons to school, the district wants to know so that an intervention can take place.
It also wants to know when other inappropriate acts are taking place on school grounds, such as drug use and
Prior to the $40,000 contract, the school district took part in a pilot test of the monitoring program with Geo Listening. For $5,000, the firm monitored 9,000 students' social networks in the district last spring.
According to the Glendale school district's Superintendent Richard Sheehan, the pilot was successful in countering a possible student suicide. The firm also found that a student posted a picture of a gun, and once investigated, it turned out the gun was fake and the student wasn't disciplined. But Sheehan said the monitoring has proved to be a valuable tool.
"We were able to save a life," said Sheehan. "It's just another avenue to open up a dialogue with parents about safety."
However, many are worried that the students are being spied on. Parents are concerned that their children's privacy is being invaded by the firm's monitoring methods, and are further concerned about how their children will be reprimanded if they post something questionable on a social site (for instance, will the child's parents be called in when something happens? Will this allow students to be punished for merely saying something negative about the school?).
Do you think the monitoring will be effective? And is it spying, or a safety precaution?
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RE: I have no problem with this.
9/18/2013 2:32:56 PM
Double edged sword here.
On the one hand yes, scanning these networks can help in prevent crimes taking place. Legitimate crimes such as dealing drugs on school grounds or any potential shootings waiting to happen, as kids do have a tendancy to lash out before they actually start shooting, noticing it early would not only save lives of fellow students but also get those kids the help they need (you're pretty goddamn stupid if you post about drugdeals on a *public* *facebook* page, but some kids/people really are that stupid).
On the other hand though. Kids say stupid stuff because they're kids and the school boards are only human. It is practically guarranteed some kids are going to be expelled, or at the very least punished, for calling a teacher stupid (or worse) even though the school has no business punishing the kid for that. As far as i'm concirned, facebook/twitter and such might be public places, they're public places OUTSIDE of school.
I very much doubt this will teach kids the real meaning of privacy. Privacy can mean voicing your opinion in a public space having no connection to the other place or person you are being critical of, and thus having no reprocussions from it.
Hell i can't even remember how often me and my friends where in a park on a sunny day, discussing the ridicolous stuff that went on in school. So what, now we should hire companies to bug all public parks with microphones just to see if kids/people say anything bad about whoever hired them?
In my opinion this will just teach kids Fear. Be fearfull of what you say everytime you say it because you never know who's listening. Don't express yourself, you might get in trouble. Don't speak to your friends about whats wrong via your main method of communication (wether we agree with that way or not), better not to communicate at all or just keep the things you say meaningless. Best to be a good little drone, and obey whatever you are told, lest you get in trouble.
This will teach kids to not be critical thinkers, *the* very thing you would want them to learn.
"We can't expect users to use common sense. That would eliminate the need for all sorts of legislation, committees, oversight and lawyers." -- Christopher Jennings
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