Quantcast
Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
This Sept. 12, 2013, portrait of Young Cho, left, 16, and Christopher Chung, right,16, in front of their school Herbert Hoover High School in Glendale, Calif. The Glendale Unified School District, in an effort to reach out to students at risk of harming themselves and try to quell bullying at its schools, hired a company last month to monitor the social media accounts of its 13,000 middle and high school students. (AP Photo/Los Angeles Times, Francine Orr)
Calif. school district monitors kids’ social media
First Published Sep 15 2013 05:12 pm • Last Updated Sep 16 2013 07:56 am

GLENDALE, Calif. • A Southern California school district is trying to stop cyberbullying and a host of other teenage ills by monitoring the public posts students make on social media outlets in a program that has stirred debate about what privacy rights teenage students have when they fire up their smartphones.

Glendale Unified School District hired Geo Listening last year to track posts by its 14,000 or so middle and high school students. The district approached the Hermosa Beach-based company in hopes of curtailing online bullying, drug use and other problems after two area teenagers committed suicide last year, the Los Angeles Times reported Sunday (http://lat.ms/1dgGpBq).

Photos
Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

The company expects to be monitoring about 3,000 schools worldwide by the end of the year, said its founder, Chris Frydrych.

In Southern California, the district is paying $40,500 to Geo Listening, and in exchange, the company’s computers scour public posts by students on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, blogs and other sites. Analysts are alerted to terms that suggest suicidal thoughts, bullying, vandalism and even the use of obscenities, among other things. When they find posts they think should spur an intervention or anything that violates schools’ student codes of conduct, the company alerts the campus.

The Glendale district began a pilot program to monitor students online last year at its three high schools, Glendale, Hoover and Crescenta Valley.

"We think it’s been working very well," said the district’s superintendent, Dick Sheehan. "It’s designed around student safety and making sure kids are protected."

Some students say they are bothered by the monitoring, even if it’s intended to help them.

"We all know social media is not a private place, not really a safe place," said Young Cho, 16, a junior at Hoover High. "But it’s not the same as being in school. It’s students’ expression of their own thoughts and feelings to their friends. For the school to intrude in that area — I understand they can do it, but I don’t think it’s right."

The company does not have a list of students’ names and instead uses "deductive reasoning" to link public accounts to students, Frydrych said. It also only looks at public postings.

Brendan Hamme, an attorney with the Southern California branch of the American Civil Liberties Union, said the district is walking a fine line with its social media surveillance.


story continues below
story continues below

The program is "sweeping and far afield of what is necessary to ensure student safety," he said.

Daily reports to school administrators include a screen capture of the flagged posts, along with details of whether they were made on or off campus, the time and date, the user’s name, if available, and a description of why the post caught the attention of analysts, Frydrych said.

It’s up to administrators to decide to act and, so far, no students have been disciplined because of a post discovered under the pilot program, Sheehan said.

———

Information from: Los Angeles Times, http://www.latimes.com



Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment


About Reader Comments


Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Videos
Jobs
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Login to the Electronic Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.