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Privacy and security have been steaming-hot topics these past few months, and as evidenced in comment sections around the Web, they're topics not everyone can agree on. This latest story, of a school district in Glendale, California, is likely to have the same divided opinion.

To help keep an eye on student goings-on for the sake of "student safety", the Glendale Unified School District has hired a company called Geo Listening that specializes in monitoring the social networking accounts of students. The company is clear to state that it monitors only public posts, which would make sense given private posts would be (or should be) inaccessible to them.

Geo Listening works not by having real people actively monitor these accounts, but by using software that triggers when certain keywords are discovered. According to the school district's Superintendent Richard Sheehan, the ultimate goal is to see "if a student is considering harming themselves, [or] harming someone else."

These social networks are effectively monitored all the time, even when kids are not at school, and it's mentioned that "We do pay more attention to the school computers", which makes it sound like those have been equipped with their own monitoring software (possibly software that Geo Listening provides).

Because all of the posts that Geo Listening targets are visible to the public, they're in effect public domain. Thus, no legal action could come against the company, or the school district, for "spying", or something of the nature. Still, concerns of privacy are going to arise from this, because even if your posts are public, it doesn't necessarily mean that you want to be digitally stalked - even by a piece of computer software. On the upside, it's being said that this sort of monitoring has helped thwart incidents in the past, so there's definitely pros to help offset some of the cons.


Bad school district - bad bad


Have a teache4r who is more a bully than fellow students? A principal or other faculty that is making life hard for you?? Finally, there is a place to do a little fiction writing while getting REAL people in trouble with their employer and the law.

Super Dave

I read this article verbatim to my wife, and we both agreed that if our son were a student in the Glendale Unified School District we would be all for this.


schools like high school should not have internet only intranet. only university who should have the luxe of internet.


Eh, I can see both sides of this issue. I think as a parent you should be aware of what your kid is posting, be it at school or home.

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I live right outside of Glendale (also known as Little Armenia) and I am very disappointed in this!! If I had a child and in their school district I would pull them out IMMEDIATELY if there wasn't a way as a parent to opt-out of this "service".


If it were me and I was still in highschool and in this district, I'd get everyone to protest this by posting for a week on their facebook all the key words for the system, over load it, and get it removed because its retarded. The staff wouldn't know what to do. What are they going to do, take each child out of class to council them? I mean seriously. I'm not sure what this is meant to do or what they do if they find something. And, its always possible to claim that the original poster was someone other than themselves. Again, I have no idea how this is helpful at all.


I'm with lifeasjosh. If I was there, I would be throwing up as many of the key words as possible. Just make sure you start it with a little notation.

*Note* This post is just to set off the school sensor software

murder death kill murder death kill murder death kill


School districts adapting the way of the NSA. Who needs privacy anyway?... I mean obviously if you are posting a comment to something, you want other people to see it, but you don't want your teachers and principals to be following you to every website you visit. It's honestly funny how similar this is to the NSA. Just replace the word "terrorists" with "bullying".... You want your kids to be protected, but honestly you should be the one monitoring what they do on the internet... Not the school district. It's kind of insulting to parents that the school district believes they have to take the child's safety into their hands even when they are at home... 


great searching google