Report: “Schools Are Mining Students’ Social Media Posts For Signs Of Trouble”
Aaah, the traditions of a new school year. New teachers, new backpacks, new crushes—and algorithms trawling students’ social media posts.
Blake Prewitt, superintendent of Lakeview school district in Battle Creek, Michigan, says he typically wakes up each morning to twenty new emails from a social media monitoring system the district activated earlier this year. It uses keywords and machine learning algorithms to flag public posts on Twitter and other networks that contain language or images that may suggest conflict or violence, and tag or mention district schools or communities.
There’s little doubt that students share information on social media school administrators might find useful. There is some debate over whether—or how—it can be accurately or ethically extracted by software.
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Note: The monitoring of social media by school districts is not something new. For example, in 2013 we shared this report about Glendale Public Schools in California, “Glendale Unified Hires Local Company To Monitor Students’ Social Media Posts” (via CBS Los Angeles)
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About Gary Price
Gary Price (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. He earned his MLIS degree from Wayne State University in Detroit. Price has won several awards including the SLA Innovations in Technology Award and Alumnus of the Year from the Wayne St. University Library and Information Science Program. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com.