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Education

Maryland School District Plans to Spy on Students' Social Media (Video)

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The Washington County School District in Maryland has hired an outside company to spy on the social media posts of its students on middle and high school campuses.

The school district is paying $20,000 per year to Social Sentinel to monitor students' social media accounts for certain keywords such as "kill" and "bomb," notes WJLA (video below).

School officials claim that Social Sentinel uses a "geofencing" feature that will only monitor social media posts while the student is on school property.

If a suspicious keyword is caught by Social Sentinel, then the social media posting will be checked by a human being to see if there are specific mentions of violence, bullying, drugs, alcohol and weapons.

Thomas L. Motter, senior vice president of Social Sentinel, told HeraldMailMedia.com that the software only searches public social media posts, not private posts, emails or texts.

The school district is also going to ask students, parents and teachers groups for other keywords that could be added to the list.

If a social media threat is violent, the police will be contacted by school officials, while bullying or harassment posts will be handled by the school administration.

"I think it's a great idea, because it's gonna help keep students safe.... But it's not too invasive. You can still be private on those social networks, but I think it can definitely benefit students in the realm of bullying, and drugs and alcohol, and try to keep that out of the schools," Coleman McHose, a school board student representative, told HeraldMailMedia.com.

Sources: HeraldMailMedia.com, WJLA

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