School District Hires Company To Track Students' Public Social Media Posts

A California school district says that safety is the reason why it hired tracking company Geo Listening to monitor students' posts.

What's the Latest Development?

This year, the 13,000 students attending schools in California's Glendale Unified School District will need to keep an extra eye on their social media footprint, thanks to the district's hiring of a company, Geo Listening, that will monitor every public post made by every student on several popular social media sites, including Facebook and Twitter. District superintendent Richard Sheehan says that although the monitoring works both on and off campus, the system will focus on activities taking place during school hours and on school computers.

What's the Big Idea?

On its Web site, Geo Listening bills itself as a kind of third eye, scanning student posts for signs of "bullying, cyber bullying, despair, hate, harm, crime, vandalism, substance abuse, and truancy" so that staff can "disrupt negative pathways and make any intervention...more effective." However, writer Chris Matyszczyk notes that the types and amounts of data collected could be very valuable someday: "What lazy, neurotic employer wouldn't love to know if a potential hire was a school bully a few years ago?...When kids grow up, there will be parts of their lives they want to erase. Yet here will be records that keep that past alive."

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