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Social media surveillance helps keep students safe, school officials say

Posted Sep 16, 2013 3:15 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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Poll: Do you monitor your children’s social media presence?

This poll ended on Tue, October 29, 2013 - 3:30:43.

Results

  • Yes, I follow their posts.
    132 votes (53.88%)
  • No, I do not follow their posts.
    71 votes (28.98%)
  • I don't know enough about their social media presence to track them.
    42 votes (17.14%)
Total Votes: 245

It appears to be entirely legal. But a new social media surveillance program tracking Internet posts by public school students has raised some hackles.

Last year, the Glendale Unified School District in California retained Geo Listening to keep an eye on what students are saying online. If workers at the service feel that issues such as bullying or a suicide threat are raised, they will alert school administrators, the Associated Press explains.

So far, no discipline has resulted, possibly because students are aware their Internet posts are being monitored and exercising caution about what they say (they found out online, rather than through an official school district announcement, the Los Angeles Times reports).

The program is "sweeping and far afield of what is necessary to ensure student safety," said attorney Brendan Hamme of the Southern California office of the American Civil Liberties Union.

"We think it's been working very well," said Dick Sheehan, who serves as school district superintendent. "It's designed around student safety and making sure kids are protected."

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