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California School District Hires Firm To Monitor Students' Social Media

samzenpus posted about 7 months ago | from the let's-have-a-look-at-what-you-have-there dept.

Social Networks 250

An anonymous reader writes "A suburban Los Angeles school district is taking a novel approach to tackling the problem of cyber-bullying. It's paying a company to snoop on students' social media pages. 'The district in Glendale, California, is paying $40,500 to a firm to monitor and report on 14,000 middle and high school students' posts on Twitter, Facebook and other social media for one year. Though critics liken the monitoring to government stalking, school officials and their contractor say the purpose is student safety. As classes began this fall, the district awarded the contract after it earlier paid the firm, Geo Listening, $5,000 last spring to conduct a pilot project monitoring 9,000 students at three high schools and a middle school. Among the results was a successful intervention with a student "who was speaking of ending his life" on his social media, said Chris Frydrych, CEO of the firm.'"

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250 comments

Again, the ends justify the means? (3)

Nefarious Wheel (628136) | about 7 months ago | (#44860137)

Haven't we grown out of "the ends justify the means" yet?

Re:Again, the ends justify the means? (5, Insightful)

kylemonger (686302) | about 7 months ago | (#44860187)

It's not about safety as much as it is about ass covering. The schools have been driven to this. Parents won't keep their children off the Internet. But when a child is bullied into committing suicide the school gets sued because they are a convenient target and because the law requires that children be educated, which for most people means sending children to public school.

Re:Again, the ends justify the means? (3, Insightful)

interkin3tic (1469267) | about 7 months ago | (#44860527)

I'm skeptical it's not just paranoia and ignorance on the part of the schools. Kids aren't going to stop being horrible to one another, kids aren't going to realize that high school drama isn't anything to kill yourself over, parents aren't going to stop grieving when their kids die, and lawyers aren't going to stop taking advantage of their grief and schools' funds just because schools hired a guy to watch them. Use common sense and do what's right (IE not violating student's rights and wasting money).

You'll get sued the same amount either way.

Re: Again, the ends justify the means? (2)

briancox2 (2417470) | about 7 months ago | (#44860593)

I remember one day, not so long ago really, a school was there to focus on a purpose. And that was to educate. They didn't get into all of these other side purposes which distract them and disperse their ability to focus.

When you think everything is your responsibility, you will not be doing well at the thing that really is your responsibility. You can bank on that.

Re: Again, the ends justify the means? (4, Interesting)

meerling (1487879) | about 7 months ago | (#44860669)

Not to mention going way outside their area.
If it's not being done on/with school computers, they shouldn't have anything to do with it.
They are supposed to be educators, not full time nannies/social police.

Re:Again, the ends justify the means? (4, Interesting)

ewhenn (647989) | about 7 months ago | (#44860617)

It's all about ass-covering.... until it backfires. Seriously, they are a school, not the Internet police. On top of that, I think court wise this could actually make them *more* vulnerable. Say the firm they hire *does* tell them about something, and action isn't taken. Now the school had a written report sent to the administrators and didn't do enough, at least that's how it would be framed by a suing attorney. I think that scenario is a lot more damning than simply taking the position that: "We are a school, we are responsible to educate kids, not keep track of their Facebook updates".

blame 'budget cuts' (4, Insightful)

globaljustin (574257) | about 7 months ago | (#44860657)

The schools have been driven to this

By entrepreneurs eager to cash-in on wealthy school districts and the helicopter parents.

This is privacy invasion plain and simple.

I used to be a high school social studies teacher. *EVERY* problem in the classroom is solvable with a properly trained and experienced teacher.

You can blame all you want but in a capitalist society if you pay teachers like union bus drivers you are going to get what you pay for...teachers will still come but they won't stay...paying teachers poorly just burns out idealistic, well-prepared teachers.

capitalism = you get what you pay teachers

that's the end of this whole discussion...

Re:blame 'budget cuts' (1)

Jeremi (14640) | about 7 months ago | (#44860845)

*EVERY* problem in the classroom is solvable with a properly trained and experienced teacher.

Great, but this problem is happening outside the classroom.

Re:blame 'budget cuts' (2)

globaljustin (574257) | about 7 months ago | (#44861117)

*EVERY* problem in the classroom is solvable with a properly trained and experienced teacher.

Great, but this problem is happening outside the classroom.

no, every school-related problem is solvable in school by a properly trained teacher...

to falsify my point, if a kid was getting bullied by neighborhood kids who don't attend his school and they don't have bruises or speak up to a teacher about it then yes that would be a scenario that wouldn't be solvable by the teacher...

what you people have to understand is that teachers (and probation officers) are the catch-alls of our society...you **wouldn't believe** the problems a standard public school teacher is expected and trained to handle unless you've worked in the system

the thing is, the training works but the teachers get burt out

Re:blame 'budget cuts' (0)

Hognoxious (631665) | about 7 months ago | (#44861363)

Does "properly trained" include knowing how to use capital letters?

And people wonder why a college degree is considered equivalent to a high school diploma from ten years ago...

Re:blame 'budget cuts' (1)

Sique (173459) | about 7 months ago | (#44861393)

I doubt that. For instance, my son goes to school via public transport, and now the new term has started, and on his normal bus station there were children waiting whom he knew from his short time in a soccer club. And they started to harass him because of him leaving the club again so soon. And no, they don't go to the same school as him, they just use the same bus, as it is the main bus line downtown.

I don't know how a teacher will solve this, though it is definitely school related.

Re:Again, the ends justify the means? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44860679)

When did parents stop being the ones considered responsible for their child's well-being?

Re:Again, the ends justify the means? (2)

Nyder (754090) | about 7 months ago | (#44861405)

When did parents stop being the ones considered responsible for their child's well-being?

Blame the internet. See before the internet, your parent knew you did fucked up shit, but didn't really have any proof. Now that it's posted on fb, twitter, and whatever else is cool, parents are aware of what their kids are getting up to. So they want to blame the school, otherwise they feel that fault would be there own.

As for bullying, we are a culture of being bullies. It's in our movies, our tv shows, it's how business get bigger, it's how America treats the rest of the world. By being a bully. It's what we teach our kids, that you have to be mean to get ahead. That you can get anyone to do what you want by threatening them in some way, either physical, mental, and/or economically. So yes, kids are quick, they pick up on what adults do, and they copy it.

But hey, it's the internet age, we can blame everyone else for our failures.

Re:Again, the ends justify the means? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44860725)

It's not about safety as much as it is about ass covering.

"The district in Glendale, California, is paying $40,500 to a pedophile with a firm hand on his penis as he goes to monitor and report on 14,000 middle and high school students' posts on Twitter, Facebook and other social media for one year."

Ie, they just fucked themselves.

The schools have been driven to this.

You mean "The electable school boards have been driven to this to bolster their election campaigns and to generally act like they're active in change and support of what is a trivial issue with minimal risk that it'll find anything." Next up, they'll spend $40,000 on a contracting firm for some rocks to put in front of the schools to ward off the tigers.

Parents won't keep their children off the Internet.

Um...we're talking about tweens to teenagers here, not simply "children". And why should parents keep their children off the internet? Honestly, that's not the issue at all. The issue is parenting: from instruction pre-internet usage, to less-and-less as the years go monitoring, to providing a safety net as "kids" do stupid things (like cyber sexing), to just being there to talk to about things. Schools can't even begin to do half of this stuff let alone pay a third party to do it because they'd likely be charged with vicarious child molestation or some such.

But when a child is bullied into committing suicide the school gets sued because they are a convenient target

This is the suburbs. So, a convenient rich target that are used as a scapegoat for all sorts of things and with parents rich enough to blow on someone else taking the blame.

... and because the law requires that children be educated, which for most people means sending children to public school.

If it weren't schools it'd be video games or music....and what do you know, you see the same shit there. Honestly, parents of "kids" who commit suicide aren't easily able to cope with things like (a) they may have been a significant contributing factor (directly or indirectly), (b) their child might have had mental issues (which they may or may not have been able to figure out and seek treatment--some "kids" off themselves even after treatment starts), (c) by their very nature of being proto-adults they're in the same boat as a lot of actual adults who commit suicide, and (d) that just generally for some people suicide might be the only course of action they really know how to deal with their problems (because as much as we like to pretend it, people who are suffering a lot of mental, emotion, or other pains often cannot seek real help out of shame or lack of money (the parents may have it, but the "kid" rarely does nor would they ask) or a base inability to know how to position themself to make the transition to adulthood. Really, few people are capable of understanding suicide--and I don't consider myself as one who fully understands it either--and having it happen to your own child has its own potential pitfalls of...suicide. So, yea, while I am one to want to lash out against the greed or lack of personal responsibility of parents or society (and certainly, juries need to stop accepting schools, video game companies, etc as legitimate targets unless they're actively encouraging the cyber bullying or whatever against the specific people involved), I think your own words are a sort of attempt at bullying as well over people you think are deserving of it. I don't think that's entirely clear, though.

Re:Again, the ends justify the means? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44860793)

Excuse me sir, are you an actual Kyle monger? If you're the genuine article — the real "Kyle McCoy," if you will — I'd be interested in acquiring a few dozen Kyles to work my medicine plantations in the Emerald Triangle. Please get back to me; we'll do Lunchables.

Re:Again, the ends justify the means? (4, Insightful)

Belial6 (794905) | about 7 months ago | (#44860811)

No, it isn't about ass covering. This move creates far more liability than it removes. This is about the school system pushing farther and farther into the role of parent in an attempt to increase the size of their bureaucracy and thus the amount of funding they get. This school has just declared that it is their responsiblility to stop kids from commuting suicide.

No doubt they will soon be complaining that they are held responsible for the responsibilities they have demanded.

Re:Again, the ends justify the means? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44860199)

And yet I get in trouble when I say "Sadness is bad. If i kill everyone no one will sad again!"

Ends justify the means.

Re:Again, the ends justify the means? (2)

gd2shoe (747932) | about 7 months ago | (#44860303)

Though critics liken the monitoring to government stalking, school officials and their contractor say the purpose is student safety.

Uh, yes, and yes? The two aren't mutually exclusive.

Re:Again, the ends justify the means? (2)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | about 7 months ago | (#44860307)

Haven't we grown out of "the ends justify the means" yet?

You must be new here - I mean to the planet - welcome. Watch your back, we're a narrow-minded, short-sighted, fucked-up species.

Re:Again, the ends justify the means? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44860489)

Or get Professor/Teacher to testify in a congressional hearing!

Re:Again, the ends justify the means? (3, Insightful)

Seumas (6865) | about 7 months ago | (#44861433)

Doesn't matter. We've now had enough generations of public education breeding conformity into people that they have little or no expectation of privacy and almost no knowledge of their protected liberties.

Think of it this way: You and I probably remember a time when you didn't even need ID to get on a domestic flight and you could walk someone right up to their gate and see them off.

Anyone born in the last two or so decades won't remember this. They'll be familiar with an experience where you are treated like a criminal by a bunch of low-wage thugs with plastic badges who grope you and inspect you . . . and who also expand their scope to far outside the airport, to nearly any public place. Kids born today will only know a world where everything they do any time and anywhere is monitored, documented, archived, shared, and used against them by their government. If this is what they grow up around, what will they *allow* to change during their time, that kids born in five or ten years will, then, consider normal for *them*?

All of this originates with the expectations and demands set at home and school. Authority must be followed. Questions are not allowed. Critical thinking is discouraged. Individualism and standing up for yourself makes you a target.

Dumb? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44860157)

What about the people that aren't retarded and block everyone?

Simply Awful (4, Insightful)

b4upoo (166390) | about 7 months ago | (#44860165)

Observation outside the school for criminal activities is a police function. The last thing we need is another police like agency that calls itself part of a school system.

Re:Simply Awful (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44860353)

Observation outside the school for criminal activities is a police function.

Everyone must do their part for the police state. By the way, you haven't filled your quota of neighbour reports this week. Get to work or you will go to a resort in a beautiful Caribbean island for rehabilitation. Some people love it so much they never come back.

captcha: sentinel

Re:Simply Awful (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44860379)

First and foremost observation of a child is a parental function that if done well and assisted properly and not excessively by the community, becomes a self function. We really don't need a police state in or out of the schools.

Re:Simply Awful (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44860381)

Observation outside the school for criminal activities is a police function.

Definitely.

Seriously, why don't you just fix the fucked up environment that school's create so that the authority figures are actually approachable so students with problems won't feel scared to talk to them?

Oh wait, everything in the modern era is powered by the fear train and requires scaring/terrorizing everybody to the best of your ability to keep them in line which prevents any sort of healthy social fabric from existing anywhere, let alone inside a school.

Re:Simply Awful (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44860407)

Seriously, why don't you just fix the fucked up environment that school's create ...

We'll start with you.

For misusing an apostrophe, your fingers will be amputated.

Re:Simply Awful (3, Interesting)

tftp (111690) | about 7 months ago | (#44860623)

Seriously, why don't you just fix the fucked up environment that school's create

You can fix that with one and only one change: students must be able to pick and choose who they want - and, most importantly, don't want - to interact with. Someone hurt you, or is scary - banish him from your presence, for a while or forever. This will be self-regulating, unless the student wants to be all alone (and, actually, that is fine as well.) Those bans must work everywhere - in class, and in halls, and in the street. (Too much to ask for, but that's the spec.)

The whole problem is that (a) students have no say in who they are working with, *AND* (b) they have no means to control behavior of others. Adults have both of those options. I don't know why so many ancient writers say that childhood is the best time of anyone's life ... in my opinion, it's the worst time (aside from deathbed, perhaps.) Children have no rights; everyone is a superior; noncompliance is punished; complaints are not accepted; crimes can be committed against you with no recourse... Hell, as soon as I was done with school I ran away and never looked back. The adult world is simply heaven, compared to the wolfpack-like society of children where only physical strength and ferocity matter.

Re:Simply Awful (1)

SecurityGuy (217807) | about 7 months ago | (#44861307)

This really isn't true. Students don't need to be able to ban everyone and anyone. Schools do need to kick out the small minority of incorrigible troublemakers who aren't there to learn anyway, and who ruin the learning environment for those who are.

That's a lot of why child society is the way it is. Schools tolerate it. I actually had another parent come to me because one of my kids was teasing one of hers. For months. To the point where her child didn't want to go to school. The school knew the whole time and didn't say a word to me. When I had a cow and pointed out their no-bullying policy, they said it didn't qualify. WTF?

We don't need draconian solutions, we just need to implement the actual solutions that are available right now. We used to call them discipline.

Re:Simply Awful (2)

Sique (173459) | about 7 months ago | (#44861419)

Schools do need to kick out the small minority of incorrigible troublemakers who aren't there to learn anyway, and who ruin the learning environment for those who are.

The problem is that the main troublemakers are often quite intelligent and good pupils with a lot of friends at school. You have to be in a position of power to be able to continiously harass people without getting into trouble yourself. It's not the big redhaired stepchild, who mainly harasses other children, it's often the captain of the football team, the winner of the literacy contest or the class speaker. What you consider the actual trouble is the angry and helpless reaction of the weaker children, which then get punished for being angry and helpless.

Re:Simply Awful (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44860399)

This is the type of administrative response you get in an understaffed, budget short system that would rather throw technology at a problem than solve it with human beings in house. The ISD should be chastised for this publically, with parents leading the way.

And i'm not saying 'bullying' will EVER be stopped. That goes far too deep into socio-economic factors that, are at minimal, a novels worth of dicussion. But the disconnect between physically being bullied at school, and 'electronic taunting' for lack of a better social media term, is vast and should be approached with two VERY different methodologies. They can be intertwined, and likely often are, but treating it like a police investigation, when you are neither the police, nor have that authority, is reckless and outside the scope of whatever power ISD's have ever been given.

Re:Simply Awful (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44860749)

Why not? It's "best current industry practice" elsewhere, and often as not government mandated too. Think banking, for example, where they have to "know the customer", then keep track of his every financial move, and occasionally call him over to make him justify his financial deeds (if the customer is loaded enough, that is). Think redmond and their child porn images scanning contraption, let loose on (purportedly private) cloud storage. Think those little black boxes put into cars that will rat on you but are there for your safety, honest, or like those rfid toll devices that turned out to getting scanned everywhere, toll booth or no, for years, and nobody any the wiser. Think cellular phone tower location data, think ANPR, think... ah, you get the idea.

Oh, and think of those schools that're deploying biometrics and RFID to keep track of their students' every move. Inside the school, to be sure, but once that's well-established, it'll spread to the road from home to school, then to any time not at home, then.... This sort of thing won't stop. It's too easy and we collectively still believe in "because we can".

Please... (5, Insightful)

not_surt (1293182) | about 7 months ago | (#44860215)

Won't somebody think of the tax-payers.

Re:Please... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44860261)

Why not just have the NSA assign a liason for the school system? Tax payers already funded that. It also would be good to educate these kids so they can live comfortably with total lack of privacy or constitution safeguards like will happen for the rest of their lives. Win_WIN right?

Re:Please... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44860587)

They are. Keeping kids from offing themselves, protects the future tax base.

And so the charges will be (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44860217)

Thoughtcrime or pre-crime?

only $40k ?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44860225)

to spy on 14,000 kids across multiple web sites for an entire school year? sounds too cheap to be true... so what's this company doing with all the data they're sifting through that makes this financially worthwhile?

Re:only $40k ?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44860417)

Well, first of all...

1. They sell the "opportunity" to learn how to data-mine to students in developing countries...

2. Then they are likely selling all the data the students collect to advertisers, of course!

PROFIT!

So simple, underpants gnomes could do it.

Private messages, and privacy controls (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44860237)

If a student isn't broadcasting to the world that they're bullying how do they detect it? Sounds like a complete waste of time and money. $40k would make for some lovely educational resources but I guess kickbacks to your mates running media monitoring companies are a higher priority when you're running a school district. PATHETIC!!!

Re:Private messages, and privacy controls (1)

hedwards (940851) | about 7 months ago | (#44860295)

That's the thing, if there's actual bullying going on, there's a paper trail of sorts. No need to actually spy, when a kid complains about things being posted to their page, they can just show the principal.

It's a bit of an odd question where exactly the line should be as the bullying these days is more likely to continue past the point of a student being at the same school or even in the same state.

Re:Private messages, and privacy controls (2)

bickerdyke (670000) | about 7 months ago | (#44861203)

It's the PUBLIC bullying and defamation that's problematic. if mullying would consist only of private messages, it could easily be blocked. The problem is the false, but public facebook profile that tells everyone what you like to do with sheep and dolphins.

And $40k wouldn't even hire an single, additional teacher, so much for "nice ressources".

Can't complain about privacey (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44860259)

As creepy as this is, if you broadcast your life in the clear using social media then you relay are in no position to complain about people listening too you!

Re:Can't complain about privacey (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44860355)

Yes... What they're posting is being relayed... That's how the Internet works...

Re:Can't complain about privacey (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44860531)

But they're wasting taxpayer money to do this. But yeah, unless they're forcing kids to surrender their passwords or something, I don't see where the privacy issue is.

Re:Can't complain about privacey (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44861129)

If the school district was paying $40k for a guy to drive around in a van and watch your children in "public" places through binoculars, you'd be grabbing a torch and pitchfork and demanding the principal's head on a plate.

But instead they're paying $40k to monitor your children's "public" conversations online, and you think its A-OK.

What the fuck is wrong with you?

Re:Can't complain about privacey (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44861175)

Good job invalidating your argument by false analogy (and loaded with appeal to emotions to boot).

No, sorry, to watch public conversations on FB/Twitter you don't need any "vans" and "binoculars". People are FUCKING SHOUTING AND JUMPING IN FRONT OF YOU ALL THE TIME (yeah, that's how defaults of most social media works and how most people use it), you just need to have ears.

Why the fuck do people like you keep insisting on OMG DON'T LISTEN TO ME SCREAMING, as if you could shame a spook like that, instead of insisting on fucking learning to control how loud you're speaking?

When NSA listens in on your private conversations - yep, they're bad, but you posting everything in public and demanding nobody looks at it - yep, you're self-entitled and criminally dumb.

Knowing how these things generally work (1)

NotSoHeavyD3 (1400425) | about 7 months ago | (#44860263)

The ones doing the bullying will be company/school doing the snooping. Then again I am cynical.

pfftt (5, Insightful)

djupedal (584558) | about 7 months ago | (#44860267)

This will last until the next suicide happens as a result of overlooked cyber-bullying there, with a lawsuit asking why the consultants missed it. The District will put the burden on the consultants, penalties will force them into bankruptcy and no one will try it ever again.

Or - the consultants will over react, causing too many false alarms and lawsuits for false accusations, with the same effect.

Re:pfftt (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44860463)

ooh, I like that twist!

no-brainer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44860283)

California should be charging them to collect all that valuable marketing information.

Correction (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44860285)

Snooping?

FTA: "I find it interesting that people keep asking if we're doing something illegal or snooping or eavesdropping, but what we're actually doing is looking at public posts," Frydrych said. "We don't see any private posts."

If you're facetweeting or whatever socnet crap, then yes, you are the product. Your shit is all out there on the wall. And you're probably naive enough to be placated by a "Don't submit data" checkbox.

A few fleshdrones and buzzword filters are smalltime. They're only paying attention to the public area of a large, opaque building. But it's hard to grasp global privacy machinations when the privacy of some twat's yolo post is their whole world.

- Falos

Account info? (4, Interesting)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | about 7 months ago | (#44860287)

The district in Glendale, California, is paying $40,500 to a firm to monitor and report on 14,000 middle and high school students' posts on Twitter, Facebook and other social media for one year.

From TFA:

Frydrych's firm scours the social media postings of Glendale students aged 13 and older -- the age at which parental permission isn't required for the school's contracted monitoring -- and sends a daily report to principals on which students' comments could be causes for concern, Frydrych said.

And how does the school district get the student account information? I know if they had asked me for that info (if social media, nay the Internet, existed when I was in HS) I would have replied, "fuck off." Hell, I'd give that same answer to that same question to my employer now.

Re:Account info? (2)

UnknowingFool (672806) | about 7 months ago | (#44860357)

And how does the school district get the student account information? I know if they had asked me for that info (if social media, nay the Internet, existed when I was in HS) I would have replied, "fuck off." Hell, I'd give that same answer to that same question to my employer now.

If you post on a public site like Facebook where you go to high school, I would say that's fair game for everyone. This isn't like the NSA snooping on private conversations. If you post it in public, you can't then say someone can't read your posts to track you.

Re:Account info? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44860787)

It's none of the schools god dammed business students do outside of school. If a parent reports it to the school the school should inform the parent that issues off-campus and/or which have nothing to do with the school be taken to the police. If the police think there has been no law broken then it's over. There is no clear violation of law here. Entertainment is not in and of itself a threat to human life. Show me where this person made a clear threat to another persons life? Did they write a letter to a friend stating that they had ammunitions and were preparing to kill someone? No? Then IT IS NOT A FUCKING THREAT!

Re:Account info? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44861255)

It's none of the schools god dammed business students do outside of school.

Oh, it is. Otherwise you may end up with school full of drug dealers and prostitutes. Wake up man, children are getting older very soon nowadays. In the old times every family had a slave for only one purpose: bringing their kids to school and teach them the society basics. Now you have to pay salary for such guy and not everyone have the money. Someone has to do it and teachers a) have no time for it b) nobody is paying them for it.

I worked couple of years in a public day room for kids (well, evening room to be more specific). Some of them was doing real shitty things and no one seem to know about. This is minority of course, but spreading really easily.

Re:Account info? (3, Informative)

hedwards (940851) | about 7 months ago | (#44860365)

Probably the same way that the US Navy got my contact information to harass me when I was in high school. The school just gets authority to collect it and to hell with your wishes. Compared with the years of harassment and insults from the jack asses at the Navy, this is of somewhat lesser concern.

But, it's still a concern, the last thing we need is to condition kids to think that it's normal for schools to spy on your behavior outside of school hours.

Re:Account info? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44860409)

Probably the same way that the US Navy got my contact information to harass me when I was in high school

to be fair, that may likely have been from the asvab [wikipedia.org] which is commonly administered to all students in a participating (many, if not most, do) high school.

Re:Account info? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44860791)

Federal law requires that public schools make their student registrations available to military recruiters. I don't think the same applies to Facebook, Twitter, et. al.

Re:Account info? (1)

bagorange (1531625) | about 7 months ago | (#44861097)

Genuine questions from a non-American.

Your military recruits those of school age?

I mean it actively encourages them to join, rather than just under 18s are allowed to join up?

And judging by a previous reply, is legally entitled to contact info for all students?

Re:Account info? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44861395)

Yes, they recruit in the schools, if a bit passively. Usually 2-3 people from the branch of the military will sit at a table in the lunchroom and hand out flyers and give information to anyone interested. Generally, even if you wanted to join before 18 they prefer that you finish school or get a GED first. I don't know how much contact info they are entitled to, as I have not had any issue with it.

Re:Account info? (2)

Savage-Rabbit (308260) | about 7 months ago | (#44861381)

Probably the same way that the US Navy got my contact information to harass me when I was in high school. The school just gets authority to collect it and to hell with your wishes. Compared with the years of harassment and insults from the jack asses at the Navy, this is of somewhat lesser concern.

The US military has been known to procure it's harassment lists from professional private sector list brokers.

But, it's still a concern, the last thing we need is to condition kids to think that it's normal for schools to spy on your behavior outside of school hours.

This is one of those damned if you do damned if you don't situations. You can criticize this all you want and you are right, watching student's social media is plain creepy. However, after the next time some deranged student walks into a school and kills 20+ of his fellow students you will also be able to criticize the school district quite justifiably. After all, this student had been blogging about his intentions on social media for weeks and nobody took any notice. Why weren't the school authorities and law enforcement reading those Facebook posts and doing something about it? I suppose then that the manner and extent of the monitoring would tend to matter. Apparently these guys are using keyword searches of a list of social media accounts to flagtop potentially troubled students for monitoring by professionals (presumably: psychiatrists, ex. cops, ex. social workers). The problem from my POW is not so much the monitoring as what they are searching for. Are they just flagging suicidal students, potentially borderline postal students or bullying victims? Or are they going North Korean on the kids and flagging things that are well within freedom of speech boundaries such as: criticising religion, criticizing the war in Iraq, criticizing the school system or will I be getting calls from the school district because my daughter is blogging about Wiccanism and that offends somebodys christian fundamentalist sensibilities? That would be both wrong and considerably more creepy than just trying to prevent suicides, bullying and shootings. I don't see an easy alternative to this other than doing no monitoring at all in which case you should not criticize the school district if they miss some blog post by a student who then goes off and does something tragic.

Re:Account info? (3, Interesting)

Bite The Pillow (3087109) | about 7 months ago | (#44860421)

And how does the school district get the student account information?

With $40K and a geo-tag, I could screen-scrape enough facebook and twitter to identify 90 percent of the students who are at any given school (who use social media) given:

1) Any seed account , even the principal or superintendant, or someone else at that school
2) A list of student names - and it gets easier with ages
3) Students often post unfiltered information publically, including the names of their sports teams
4) Students are often not even aware that there is an option to mark things private, or that postings are visible to anyone but their friends
5) Friend or follow lists will be highly correlated with school population, meaning I can spider from every new account
6) A specially crafted mascot account for each school can be used, to friend or follow students susceptible to joining things they don't understand
7) A list of trigger words that flag comments for review by a person
8) A social sciences college student who needs money enough to read the postings of 13 to 18 year olds that have been flagged to see if it should go on a report
9) Another college student interested in sociology or psychology willing to vet and approve the automated matches, and look for more that software missed

Oh man, it goes on. It's quite simple, really, and I for one wish I had thought of offering such a service. The kids don't have to volunteer one bit of information directly to the monitoring company - they will volunteer it all indirectly, unknowingly, and will be very surprised when the school calls mom and dad.

I'd still have most of that $40K, and with a story like this I just upped my client list by an order of magnitude, parental outrage be damned.

Re:Account info? (1)

forkazoo (138186) | about 7 months ago | (#44860605)

You can also make accounts using the names of real students for the friend requesting, or completely random ones. Some people won't friend the "Mascott" account, but may approve a request from somebody they think they know. A lot of people won't even notice being friends with two "Steve Smiths," but you could change the name on the account after getting friended pretty quietly to avoid being accidentally contacted as the actual person.

Re:Account info? (4, Informative)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 7 months ago | (#44860479)

And how does the school district get the student account information?

1. Create a fake account using the picture of a really cute 16 year old girl claiming to be new at the school.
2. Request to friend a few boys. 99% of them will accept.
3. Follow the friends of friends network to connect to everyone else.
In a few days, you should have every student with a Facebook account. My daughter is in high school. She has over 600 Facebook friends, and she will just automatically accept any friend request from any other student at her school. I think this is pretty typical for HS students.

Re:Account info? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44860507)

My daughter is in high school. She has over 600 Facebook friends, and she will just automatically accept any friend request from any other student at her school.

Your daughter is a moron? Blond? Nice tits?

Re:Account info? (1)

LordLucless (582312) | about 7 months ago | (#44860991)

The students probably have their whole profile and all their posts public. I believe that's the default, and many probably didn't bother changing it. I really have no issue with this, as long as they're only accessing public profiles - if you're publishing information, it's up to you to limit your intended audience.

Let's also monitor the teachers and admins (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44860325)

Sickening, but welcome to the age of the Surveillance State.

How about if tax dollars were used to follow this district's administrators, teachers and board members?

That is not a rhetorical joke.

How much porn are these "public servants" watching? What are their thoughts? How are they spending their time? Maybe we should do something about it. Let's call a meeting.

Fascist Scumbags.

Re:Let's also monitor the teachers and admins (2)

fazig (2909523) | about 7 months ago | (#44860825)

Besides of wasted tax money, there's a distinct difference.
In your example these "public servants" do things in private and keep them private. But children using Social Media choose to reveal their activities and thoughts to the public, by definition, aren't keeping these things private.
As long as these companies don't 'hack' the Social Media accounts of the children to get access to 'private' information, I don't see the problem. The same thing applies to public servants as well. Anyone can access public information anyway.

This might even reduce cyber-bullying but won't do anything about the cause of bullying itself. It's more of a quick fix to soothe the guilty conscience.

Goose and Gander (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44860405)

So the school officials would be perfectly fine having this same monitoring applied to them, and the results posted for all parents and students to see?

I think not.

Re:Goose and Gander (1)

bickerdyke (670000) | about 7 months ago | (#44861235)

The point of Reputation monitoring is to find out, what "information" about you (or the monitored subject) IS already public. So posting such results would be of no use. That kind of monitoring is desigend to find that public page that already everyone but you knows about and to explain why everyone is calling you names like "sheep lover" when you walk down the hall.

Let the trolling commence! (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44860413)

How long before the kids start trolling the hell out of this just for the lulz? The possibilities are endless.
 

Re:Let the trolling commence! (2)

AHuxley (892839) | about 7 months ago | (#44860487)

Rework some of the "Glorious Leader" texts?
The great school is an outstanding educational and sporting centre, brilliant teachers who teach the capitalist system along the golden road to full employment.

I live in Glendale CA.. but not for long. (1)

jmd (14060) | about 7 months ago | (#44860431)

This does not surprise me. One step out of line in this town..and down you go. I often see a couple of teenaged kids... with 4 cops puffing their chests out. Probably for skateboarding.

You can see the future right here in Glendale CA

Good! (5, Insightful)

NoKaOi (1415755) | about 7 months ago | (#44860443)

I see a major positive side effect of this: If students know that school officials are monitoring their social media accounts, then maybe (at lease the brighter ones) will learn to be a little more conscious of the stupid stuff that they post.

Re:Good! (2)

knorthern knight (513660) | about 7 months ago | (#44861013)

> I see a major positive side effect of this: If students know that school officials
> are monitoring their social media accounts, then maybe (at lease the brighter
> ones) will learn to be a little more conscious of the stupid stuff that they post.

And the really bright ones may decide not to join Facebook/Twitter/whatever. Actually, maybe some good may come out of this after all.

They're spending EDUCATION money on THAT? (2)

MarkvW (1037596) | about 7 months ago | (#44860457)

Just when you think that school boards can't get any more stupid and administrator-heavy, somebody comes up with a real whopper.

Re:They're spending EDUCATION money on THAT? (1)

AHuxley (892839) | about 7 months ago | (#44860511)

If the state or federal gov has cash funding ready to go, better request it or the local staff will lose their grant application writing skills.

Can't we agree already... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44860467)

To publicly execute the teachers union members and upper brass of the school district?

Seriously kids, shoot THEM, not your classmates. They're the real bullies.

On a Sidenote, rules against fighting help bullying since the bullies will do it behind closed doors.

Not spying (1)

manu0601 (2221348) | about 7 months ago | (#44860483)

This has nothing to do with government spying: everything monitored here is already in public view.

Re:Not spying (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44860573)

It's tax dollars spent on 24hr surveillance.

Soaking the taxpayer (2)

NadNad (550015) | about 7 months ago | (#44860549)

Monitoring about 56% more students costs 8x as much? Gotta love no-bid contracts.

Re:Soaking the taxpayer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44860601)

Well, yeah, the company had to go and hire someone. The CEO's wife was probably complaining about him ogling the girls' Facebook pages all day.

This won't end well (5, Insightful)

hyades1 (1149581) | about 7 months ago | (#44860599)

How long will it take for the students to find out this is going on? My bet is that they already know.

So how long will it be before a student who isn't thrilled with having adults e-stalk them decides to leave a "private" comment about how Principal Lovegood is just a bit too handsy?

Re:This won't end well (1)

Jeremi (14640) | about 7 months ago | (#44860827)

So how long will it be before a student who isn't thrilled with having adults e-stalk them decides to leave a "private" comment about how Principal Lovegood is just a bit too handsy?

Students have been spreading calumnies like that about their principals and teachers since before there was Internet access... I don't think anything would be different now.

OTOH the knowledge that there are adults (virtually) present might well be enough to prevent the Lord of the Flies scenario that seems to play out too often these days.

Re:This won't end well (1)

hyades1 (1149581) | about 7 months ago | (#44861143)

The situations aren't even remotely the same. Do I really have to explain why, or can you work it out for yourself?

Teensy hint: consider the difference between publicly accusing a teacher of sexual misconduct and telling a friend "privately", along with something like, "And if anybody tries to make me tell, I'll just deny everything".

What's a poor eavesdropper to do?

Re:This won't end well (1)

anonymov (1768712) | about 7 months ago | (#44861207)

Teensy hint: RTFA

"I find it interesting that people keep asking if we're doing something illegal or snooping or eavesdropping, but what we're actually doing is looking at public posts," Frydrych said. "We don't see any private posts."

It's not just "publicly accusing a teacher", it's "publicly accusing a teacher, with _all_ your friends and relatives there to hear it and eternal record remaining".

Re:This won't end well (1)

hyades1 (1149581) | about 7 months ago | (#44861399)

From TFA: "People say that's not private: It's public on Facebook. I say that's just semantics. The question is what is the school doing? It's not stumbling into students -- like a teacher running across a student on the street. This is the school sending someone to watch them..."

And anybody who believes even for a second the company doesn't go deeper than they admit to going is probably ready to take advantage of that amazing opportunity extended by a Nigerian bank president.

Re:This won't end well (1)

bickerdyke (670000) | about 7 months ago | (#44861237)

How long will it take for the students to find out this is going on?

Well, it's on the news. What more is there to "find out"?

What a great idea! (1)

grasshoppa (657393) | about 7 months ago | (#44860647)

All kids should have adults looking out for them, helping them grow into successful adults.

This is truly an idea who's time has come.

The beginning of the end (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44860665)

This might just be the event that informs the middle and high-school generation that a Surveillance Society is not OK, and kids leave the existing platforms in droves.

Post a gun ... get an inquiry (2)

Caladrius (1118023) | about 7 months ago | (#44860723)

FROM TFA:
In another recent incident, a student posted a photo of what appeared to be a gun, and a subsequent inquiry determined the gun was fake, Sheehan said. Still, school administrators spoke with the parents of the student, who wasn't disciplined, the superintendent said. "We had to educate the student on the dangers" of posting such photos, Sheehan said. "He was a good kid. ... It had a good ending."

Errr ... so ... if it had not been a fake gun, then he'd have been ??? What if he is a hunter? Likes to shoot targets with a bb gun? Had posted a picture of his dad cleaning a legally owned handgun?? You know they'd have done something - otherwise, if he shows up and shoots ppl they'd be crucified by lawsuits.

It is now dangerous to post completely legal things .. this won't end well.

Re:Post a gun ... get an inquiry (1)

AHuxley (892839) | about 7 months ago | (#44860823)

Think of the next step.
If any parent makes a fuss about Constitutional rights they are showing signs of PTSD. Welcome to the medical no buy list.

This seems apropos: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44860851)

http://scoutshonour.com/donttakeitpersonallybabeitjustaintyourstory/

And let's not forget John Rook is a TERRIBLE teacher.

So Long As They Aren't Providing Any Data (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44861293)

The school district is obviously not allowed to give out any children's names to a private corporation without parental authorization, so whoever they are paying $40,000 to isn't going to be able to come up with much. About all they can search for are cases where kids mentioned the school on their Facebook pages.

Stalking is still a crime (1)

cstec (521534) | about 7 months ago | (#44861409)

Though critics liken the monitoring to government stalking, school officials and their contractor say the purpose is student safety.

If "safety" is created by stalking, the price is too high.

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