Sunday, March 11, 2012

Should Schools Track Social Media?

Being that a Twitter threat was a possible warning to the Ohio shooting, the question has been raised “Should schools be monitoring students' social media accounts?” It’s kind of interesting that this question is posed around the same time news sites are reporting that employers are asking to have access to employee’s social networking accounts. In that case, I say it’s a violation of privacy, but in the case of the schools? Maybe not.

When we’re talking about saving lives, I think it’s a different issue. It’s kind of like how the government monitors our online activity to help identify threats to national security. Although this certainly can be abused, I think overall, I’d opt for safety.

What people are talking about with the schools, though, is not really an invasion of privacy at all. They’re talking about having someone monitor online activity that is already public. So, it would kind of be like that person is a student, although they may not be. It would be that person’s responsibility to interact and befriend students online and to decide whether any threats made are legitimate.

The problem with this approach is that there are actually a lot of threats made online, especially among students. It’s a hard job to weed out the ones that could potentially be real. That person wouldn’t have an easy job, and he undoubtedly would be wrong every so often, but I think it would be better to have someone listening to the online conversation than not.

If someone had been doing this before the Ohio shooting, maybe things would have gone differently. Maybe police would have been dispatched to that troubled student’s home before he could show up at school with a gun and create the tragic situation we have come to find out about. Overall, I think it’s a good policy for schools to adopt. What do you think?

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