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California Students' Social Media Being Stalked

As if the NSA spying on our every move weren’t enough, now kids have to watch what they say online in and out of school. Some 13,000 middle and high school students in Southern California will have their Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube accounts scrutinized by social media monitoring service Geo Listening. The Glendale Unified School District is paying $40,500 a year to snoop on its students.

The Daily Caller explains how the cyberspying will work:

Each day, explains the Glendale News-Press, Geo Listening will produce a report for Glendale administrators that catalogs social network posts by frequency and by topics such as cyber-bullying, drug abuse, vandalism and skipping school. For good measure, there are other hopelessly vague categories including hate and despair.

…The school district claims it was able to intercede to help a student contemplating suicide thanks to last year’s pilot program.

“The administrator was contacted at the school site. Then we made contact with the student, the student’s family and we got them the appropriate help,” [Glendale Unified Superintendent Dick] Sheehan boasted to CBS Los Angeles.
“We do monitor on and off campus, but we do pay attention during school hours,” the superintendent also noted. “We do pay more attention to the school computers.”

And the CEO of Geo Listening assures the public that employees “monitor only public posts to social networks, [not] privatized pages, SMS, MMS, email, phone calls, voicemails.”

School budgets are being cut during the recession along with teachers’ salaries. Educational and arts programs are suffering because of a lack of financial support. How, then, can spending tens of thousands on big brother surveillance of minors be justified? According to Sheehan, “The whole purpose is student safety.” Talk about an overused excuse.

—Posted by Natasha Hakimi

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