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The Glendale, California school district is now paying the firm, Geo Listening, to monitor students’ use of social media sites for violence, drug use, suicidal threats, and bullying.
According to CNN, many are uncomfortable with the school district’s actions, framing their surveillance as an infringement on privacy rights.
Lee Tien, a senior staff attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, claimed, “This is the government essentially hiring a contractor to stalk the social media of the kids [...] To actually go and gather information about people away from school, that crosses a line.”
A Geo Listening spokesperson countered that, “All of the individual posts we monitor on social media networks are already made public by the students themselves. Therefore, no privacy is violated.”
Supporters of the Geo Listening process argue that it protects students, citing one instance involving a student who spoke of ending his life on a social media site.
Chris Frydrych, CEO of Geo Listening, maintains that his firm simply allows for better listening, “Honestly, we’re not spying on kids. Can we focus back on the problem: The problem is we’re not listening effectively [...] And we’re shifting that.”
According to The Daily Mail, students did not know their accounts were being monitored until media reports started to surface.