Schools Are Using Social Media To Find Signs of Trouble Among Students

Algorithms can search for and flag public posts on social media.

Teens are getting creative when it comes to sneaky phone use

Educators are learning when it comes to preventing potential mass shootings, too. Blake Prewitt, superintendent of Lakeview school district in Battle Creek, Michigan, told The Atlantic that he wakes up every morning to about 20 emails from a social media monitoring system that the district started using earlier this year.

The system uses keywords and machine learning algorithms to flag public posts on Twitter and other social media that contain language or images that may suggest conflict or violence, and mention or tag district schools or communities. Prewitt believes that the alerts help keep his 4,000 students and 500 staff safe.

“If someone posts something threatening to someone else, we can contact the families and work with the students before it gets to the point of a fight happening in school,” he said to The Atlantic. 

Though there is little doubt that students share important information on social media, there is debate over whether and how accurately or ethically this information can be extracted by software.

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