California’s Glendale School District Pays $40K To Monitor Students’ Social Media Activity
Glendale School District in California is spending $40,500 a year to monitor the social media activities of about 13,000 middle school and high school students at eight schools.
Although the program was put into place during the last school year, the district failed to announce the decision until this Fall.
The district hired the services of Geo Listening, which claims to provide "critical information as early as possible," allowing school employees "to disrupt negative pathways and make any intervention more effective."
After collecting data from students' posts on social media platforms, Geo Listening issues a daily report to school officials that categorizes posts by their frequency and how they relate to cyberbullying, harm, hate, despair, substance abuse, vandalism and truancy, according to the Glendale News Press.
The group aggregates posts from Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Picasa, Wine, Flickr, Ask.fm, YouTube and Google+.
Their website claims, "Your students are crying for help. We have heard these cries of despair, and for help and attention, loud and clear from students themselves via their public postings on social networks."
There are apparent ways around being monitored. Their website discusses who students can easily opt out of the service by making sure their social media profiles are not public. However they say, “Most users below the age of 25 do not utilize the available privacy settings because they are seeking to be recognized for their respective posts.”
The company says it does not "monitor email, SMS, MMS, phone calls, voicemails or unlock any privacy setting of a social network user."