School districts are increasingly using 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.
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.
The monitoring software company, Firestorm, pitches its social media monitoring tool as being able to help schools prevent everything from sexting and bullying to mass shootings.
There’s little doubt that students share information on social media school administrators might find useful, though there is some debate over whether—or how—it can be accurately or ethically extracted by software.
There is the potential that the tools may be more likely to misfire on language used by black youth, potentially causing them to experience greater scrutiny from school administrators.