A California school district is paying an outside firm to monitor the social media postings of 14,000 middle and high school students for a year.
The Glendale district is paying $40,500 to the firm Geo Listening to look at public posts in search of references to possible violence, drug use, bullying, truancy and suicidal threats, according to CNN.
The district already used the firm for a pilot project that helped successfully intervene when a student was found on social media talking about “ending his life,” the firm’s CEO told CNN.
In an unrelated incident, the district’s superintendent said one student posted a photo of what appeared to be a gun.
Geo Listening employs 10 full-time workers and contract staff who only work up to four hours a day because, according to firm CEO Chris Frydrych, “the content they read is so dark and heavy.”
The school district’s move has raised privacy concerns, with some comparing it to government-sponsored stalking. Other things the firm looks for on social media include whether students make references to cutting class and whether they’re using smartphones during class.
The arrangement with Geo Listening will be discussed later this month at a meeting of the school district’s PTA, during which the superintendent will make an appearance.