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Social Media Monitoring in K-12 Schools: Civil and Human Rights Concerns

The Brennan Center and the Center for Democracy and Technology released a joint statement enumerating six major civil and human rights concerns arising out of the social media surveillance of students in K-12 schools.

Published: October 17, 2019

In the wake of high-profile mass shoot­ings, school districts are increas­ingly turn­ing to social media monit­or­ing to proact­ively identify threats of viol­ence or other harm­ful beha­vior among student communit­ies. While the desire to take action in protect­ing students is under­stand­able, surveilling students’ social media is unlikely to be effect­ive and poses its own threat to school safety.

Social media monit­or­ing soft­ware is exper­i­mental and has not been proven to be valu­able in prevent­ing incid­ents of harm. Rather than increas­ing school safety, using this tech­no­logy to attempt to predict mass viol­ence may cause last­ing damage to students who are mislabeled as danger­ous and subject to unne­ces­sary scru­tiny by school author­it­ies or law enforce­ment. Without appro­pri­ate guidelines or account­ab­il­ity meas­ures, system­atic surveil­lance is likely to invade student privacy, stifle expres­sion and dialogue, and dispro­por­tion­ately impact chil­dren from margin­al­ized or minor­ity back­grounds. Before alloc­at­ing already limited educa­tion funds to inef­fect­ive and poten­tially harm­ful social media monit­or­ing soft­ware, stake­hold­ers must fully consider and safe­guard against these concerns and take steps to create a school envir­on­ment that is safe and support­ive for all students.

Read the state­ment here: