Should schools monitor social media for obvious issues, such as publicly posted threats? It has been a controversial question of late, and as far as we know few schools are doing it. Privacy concerns are often cited, although legally monitoring private accounts and posts is impossible. Once a student, or anyone, posts something publicly on social media, we don’t believe that the poster should have any expectation of privacy.
If you’re of the opinion that scanning public social media for school threats is a bad idea, a very unfortunate case in Canada this week might change your mind.
Seven students in a Pickering Ontario high school were stabbed Tuesday, the day after a 14-year old student (name withheld for obvious reasons) published a series of posts on Tumblr in which she clearly stated that she had been contemplating suicide, and instead had decided to go to school and commit a series of stabbings.
The threat wasn’t hard to find. Her posts from the night before were hashtagged with, among other things #murder, #suicide and #triggerwarning. On the morning of the stabbings, she posted the following:
The students, their parents and the staff at the school could have had fair warning that this was going to happen. If an effective public social media threat program were in place they would have been warned.
Full disclosure: we have built a solution for exactly this type of situation. If your school is interested in a public social media monitoring program, let us know. We can implement a cost effective program for your school.
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