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Giving Compass' Take:
• Some school districts are surveilling students' social media accounts and individuals living in the vicinity to monitor potential threats to the school.
• Should students have to sacrifice their privacy for these safety measures? How do we know these safety precautions are working?
• Read more about combing through students' social media pages.
Facing ongoing threats of school violence, some districts are implementing services to monitor the social media accounts of everyone living in the immediate vicinity, including unrelated adults, with one company called Social Sentinel watching over all local posts for key phrases that could foretell a school shooting, Education Week reports.
Though there are reports that this type of surveillance has thwarted some attacks, they also reveal comments about self-harm and suicide, leaving districts in a gray area of having important information that, if shared, could infringe on students’ privacy.
In addition to loss of privacy, surveillance can also be a pathway to identity theft, with data that potentially collected from facial recognition technology spotlighted as a potential target. While vendors tout their ability to collect all this student data, little is said about how that data is protected and who has access to it.
Districts say protecting students from school shootings is their No. 1 concern, though criticisms of hardened security efforts have included questions of how measures like facial recognition software could thwart an attack if the perpetrator was a student or faculty member already scanned into the system. But on the social media front, many school shooters did make concerning posts online prior to their attack, and the argument could also be made that any social media post is in the public realm and therefore does not qualify as private. Also, students should be aware that all conversations made via email or chat through a school’s server are not private, either.
Protecting students comes at a cost, and part of that price may be the loss of privacy.
Read the full article about surveilling students' social media accounts for school safety by Shawna De La Rosa at Education Dive.