News & Politics

School District Hires Firm to Monitor Student Social Media Postings

Some students in the California school district say it's an invasion of privacy.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com

A school district in California has hired a local company to monitor students’ social media postings, according to CBS News. The Glendale Unified School District has hired Geo Listening to scour the web for social media postings that indicate when a student is in trouble.

The cost of the school board-approved program is $40,500 a year.

“The whole purpose is student safety,” Superintendent Richard Sheehan told CBS. “Basically, it just monitors for keywords where if a student is considering harming themselves, harming someone else.” Sheehan said that the company will monitor social media sites both on and off campus, Geo Listening will emphasize the monitoring of posts during school hours.

Sheehan also said that during a pilot of the program last year, Geo Listening and the district successfully stopped a student from committing suicide.

“We have provided information to school districts, which has led to numerous successful interventions on behalf of students that intended self-harm, suicide, bullying, truancy, substance abuse, and vandalism. We monitor only public posts to social networks. We do not monitor privatized pages, SMS, MMS, email, phone calls, voicemails,” said Chris Frydrych, the CEO of the company.

Students have mixed opinions on the program. Matilda Sinany, a 14-year-old student in the district, told NBC News that she opposed the program “because everybody deserves their privacy.” And some students have started a Facebook page instructing students how to remove the name of their school on their page so their posts could not be tracked.

 

Alex Kane is former World editor at AlterNet. His work has appeared in Mondoweiss, Salon, VICE, the Los Angeles Review of Books and more. Follow him on Twitter @alexbkane.

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