Is it legal for your school to monitor your social media accounts?
One school district in California apparently thinks it’s okay to monitor students’ social media accounts and check in on your Facebook and Twitter messaging. The Glendale School District contracted with a firm to monitor students’ discussions with friends in an attempt to address cyberbullying.
After two suicides in the area, one in the Glendale school district, the administration decided to concentrate on student online safety. The program tracks public postings of the 14,000 students in the district searching for such topics as drug use, bullying and other violence, truancy and suicide threats. Only social media accounts of those over 13 are monitored since that’s the age where parental permission isn’t required.
What do you think of this recent development? Should schools be policing your online conversations? Is it an invasion of your privacy? Doesn’t the school have a responsibility to keep you safe while there? These are questions that may end up in court and ultimately before the U.S. Supreme Court to decide if the First Amendment applies to students online and off-campus.
The recent death of Florida’s Rebecca Ann Sedwick, age 12, has brought the subject front and center. Rebecca was taunted tirelessly on multiple sites. A dispute about an ex-boyfriend escalated to the point where her mother took her phone away, closed her Facebook account and finally changed schools. However, Rebecca became involved with new apps and websites such as Voxer, Kik and ask.fm where the bullying started up again. Her mother didn’t know about this. On September 9, 2013, Rebecca jumped to her death after creating a new username “That dead girl.”