Some schools in Florida and California are launching an app that searches for key words that appear on its students' social media pages. Administrators who pushed for the computer-aided monitoring say it will help them identify bullying—and other unsafe activities among its student population.
Some parents, on the other hand, think it's overstepping and compromising children's privacy.
"It monitors key words that could present threats, for example 'gun' or 'attack' or 'kill' or words of that nature," Bill Sublette, chairman of Florida's Orange County School Board, told Today.
The goal is well-intended, schools say, insisting that it is a tool to help prevent violence on school property. Administrators use the example of recent school shooters who posted threats on social media before they carried out their crimes.
Moreover, board members for the Florida schools who approved the plan, said it will alert officials and parents to bullying behavior, which often occurs online.
Students don't like the intrusion as well. One told Today it's as if school administrators invite themselves into the students' homes.
"By them monitoring your social media, it's kind of like they're inviting themselves to sit at your kitchen table at Sunday dinner," said student Brooke Lynn Radcliffe. "It's not OK."
Glendale, Calif., schools are paying around $40K per year for monitoring 14,000 students. The district contracted with a Hermosa Beach, Calif., company Geo Listening, to track what the study body is posting, saying, commenting on, tweeting and liking.