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Flagler School Board Wants To Snoop on Students’ Social Media, And Maybe Yours. Wrong Move.

| April 16, 2018

social sentinel spying snooping

Careful. They’re watching. (© FlaglerLive)

The Flagler County School Board on Tuesday is prepared to sign an $18,500 contract with a Vermont-based trolling and surveillance company that would provide “alerts” to district staff about any publicly available social media postings or behavior it finds suspicious anywhere in the Flagler County-Palm Coast area. That includes, in the words of senior administrator Earl Johnson, “threats of violence, anything dealing with suicide, self-harm or criminal activity on or around our campuses,” issues involving narcotics, bullying, harassment and so on.

pierre tristam column flaglerlive The school district, in other words, is going into the policing and investigative business well beyond school campuses under the guise of adding one more tool of protective “awareness” to its arsenal. The aim is defensible. The method is not.

It does not appear as if either the school board or the administration have thought through the method and many problems associated with it. Neither have given the public a chance to weigh in on what amounts to a vast, new, untested and perilous system of sniffing, snooping and “alerting” that, implausible claims by district and company officials aside, adds up to surveillance on one side and the potential of targeting on the other. It does so in the hands of unnamed district officials with what will be real-time and permanent access to aggregated data that by law must be preserved: since when are districts in the business of creating databases of behavioral alerts about individuals even beyond campus limits? Not even local law enforcement can legally do that, whether the information is publicly available or not.  (The Associated Press won a Pulitzer a few years ago for revealing how New York City police had snooped on law-abiding Muslims and aggregated behavioral and other data, most of it publicly available).

That the information being mined is all publicly available doesn’t justify the district’s involvement. School districts are not policing agencies. They’re not monitoring agencies. They’re not sentinels of behavior beyond school campuses during school hours. Delegating the job doesn’t lessen its inappropriateness. School officials are educators first and last. Leave the trolling and policing to police—assuming it’s legal.

Let’s also dispense with the rote and disingenuous justification that all the information trolled is public. When you’re shopping, driving, hanging out at the library or speaking on your cell while walking down the street, you’re in public, too. You have no expectation of privacy. That doesn’t mean you want someone recording your every move. You don’t give up your right to be left alone the moment you step into a public realm. But almost all spying is done in public. Anything more requires a warrant. So it absolves nothing and no one to say: all the information is public. Trolling and spying makes no one comfortable, no matter the means or the supposed well-meaning aims. 

The company the school district is contracting with is called Social Sentinel. District officials insist the company will not be amassing or using the data in any way to target individuals. It will only analyze the data enough to filter what it deems serious threats, which are then provided to district officials. It’s up to the district to then choose what to do with the alerts. Superintendent Jim Tager wants five to eight district officials to have access to the alerts. These would then trigger their own investigations–or not, depending on the alert.

The school board spent less than half an hour discussing the proposal at an April 3 workshop. It is set to approve the contract with Social Sentinel after a company presentation at Tuesday evening’s meeting.

Alarmingly, the board was set to hold a closed-door meeting on Tuesday with a Social Sentinel official about the contract. While the board has the right to hold closed-door sessions to discuss internal security matters that go directly to such things as security methods, layouts, engineering plans and tactical responses to threats, the law that provides for such strict exceptions to open meetings says absolutely nothing about discussing a contract with a third-party provider that intends to conduct surveillance of publicly-available information: neither that company’s methods nor its data are exempt for public disclosure, especially ahead of a contractual arrangement with a local school district.

Last month when the board held a closed-door session to discuss security issues involving law enforcement, not even Sheriff Rick Staly was allowed to sit in. How anyone at the district could justify a closed-door meeting with an out-of-state company barely a few years old that few people know anything about, to discuss surveillance methods that should be known by those being surveilled, is difficult to understand. Only after I raised some of those questions with a couple of school board members and the district’s chief spokesman Friday, the school board attorney informed me that Social Sentinel would not be part of the closed-door meeting after all.

Students showed the district how to thoughtfully foster a culture of trust. The school board risks doing it damage.

That was only half-reassuring: the closed session had been billed exclusively as a meeting to discuss Social Sentinel. It’s still being held, but without a Social Sentinel official in the room—but still with Johnson, who’s been the point man on the Social Sentinel contract. In other words, it appears the board will still be discussing a contract about which nothing should be hidden from the public, whether it’s Social Sentinel’s methods or the district’s. If it does, it will be breaking the law.

As for the open meeting: the board has invited only a Sentinel representative to make a presentation. You don’t give the floor exclusively to the salesperson if you’re looking for an objective perspective. For that matter, why was Sentinel picked, without bids or a more transparent process, when there are several other companies doing the same thing out there? Why isn’t an advocate of student privacy or civil liberties invited to speak at the same meeting? That the question has to be asked provides a clear enough answer: this is a hurried selling job, not an analysis.

Of course the system is being sold with the best of intentions: to prevent violence, suicides, bullying. All snooping systems are justified that way. But a justification is not its own blessing. The question is how the these systems are handled by the agencies using the data. But we never really know–certainly not in this case.

The school district has not answered questions even for itself beyond the vague wording of the standard contract with that company, which adds up to a disturbing and untenable assertion: “Trust us.” There are no accountability measures in place, no transparency measures, no written policy that outlines who may and may not use the data, how the data may be used or where. Can a lone administrator grab the alerts in off hours from home and start trolling the source in turn? What rights individuals fingered by an “alert” do and do not preserve? What right of appeal do they have after being targeted in the first place? How will the district measure the effectiveness and fallibility of the technology? Why not pilot the system for a few weeks before locking into a full year? What mechanisms are in place to ensure that sufficient pairs of eyes weigh alerts before moving on one? Why haven’t those mechanisms been set up, let alone shared with the public? Will the district alert the public of the number of false positives it’s received or acted on? How will it ensure that anyone who’s been targeted, fingered, made the subject of an “alert”–whichever way you want to put it–will have a right to see the data that triggered the alert? And so on. This is not an exhaustive list by any means. But it suggests that Social Sentinel triggers alerts on itself. 

Just as disturbingly: none of the school board members have raised the questions beyond a few cursory concerns about –in the words of board member Andy Dance–“a list of safeguards so there’s an assurance we’re not targeting people.” But of course the system targets individuals. Who else is there behind these social media accounts? Neptune? Russia? As a start, I asked for that list of safeguards, 13 days after Dance asked for it at the workshop. I also asked for the references Dance asked be included, from other users of the system. Same response. Here’s what Kristy Gavin, the school board attorney, wrote me: ” It is my understanding that we have not received any additional documentation from Social Sentinel to address the requested list.  Instead, the representative will be present during the meeting to provide the additional information.  As far as letters/documentation from users of the system the district has not received any such documentation.” 

I don’t think that’s a good way to start an $18,500 contract. 

Another question: can Social Sentinel point to a single instance in any school of an alert that led to the prevention of an act of violence? Not that even a success here and there proves anything, or proves that it couldn’t have been logged any other way. Can it point to more than one? Its own literature certainly doesn’t. That’s an awful lot of money to throw at a vague tool on the off chance that it may, and then again may never, lead to information more readily secured through more intelligent, less invasive and heavy-handed means that extend beyond the schoolhouse.

Keep in mind: the system does not discriminate between, say, students, faculty or visitors at Buddy Taylor Middle School or guests at the Hilton Garden Inn or someone riding in a car on Belle Terre or Matanzas Woods and posting to social media at that moment. So whether they act on it or not, district officials will be in a position to see behavior that often has nothing to do with students or schools, social media’s tentacles reaching deep into users’ families, friends, colleagues.

It is surprising that a school board stocked with individuals who consider themselves guardians against Big Government are willing so easily to be seduced by technology that defines Big Government, whether it involves their students or not. (That Social Sentinel is a private company is irrelevant: Big Government’s mercenaries are often contractors.) But technology can have that alluring—or rather luring—effect. It reminds me of the way so many cities across Florida, Palm Coast among them, surrendered to the red-light camera craze in the name of safety several years ago, supposedly at little apparent cost and even some profit: technology did all the work. Until the technology proved to cause more harm than good, more crashes, more litigation, more costs, and of course less safety. Cities learned. The cameras, those falsely benevolent spies, came down. Social Sentinel is its own kind of snappy camera for the social media age.

Don’t fall for it. Not when it would so sharply contradict nobler aims so recently stated.

Last month this same school board and superintendent spoke proudly of the student march across the Flagler Beach bridge as an example of the sort of thoughtful, measured response to the Parkland massacre. One of the marchers’ main goals was to better foster a culture of trust at school among students and between faculty and students. They want to diminish the risk that an alienated student turns into a Nikolas Cruz, the Parkland shooter. That human contact—that humane awareness—is one of the most effective means of fostering secure campuses. So is what’s been very effective locally over the years: a faculty, including guidance counselors and administrators, closely connected to their students, and students who don’t hesitate to be the first line of alert when they see or sense something to be off. There’s been several potential incidents at Flagler Palm Coast High School or at Matanzas High School over the past few years that have been defused before becoming too serious because of that culture of guarded but effective vigilance. It’s never celebrated, barely even talked about: you can’t spotlight a non-event, even when the non-event is actually a heroic, communal achievement that speaks more eloquently than any technology about your security. But there’s no substitute for it. Spying on students—and yes, it is spying, no matter how Social Sentinel veils it with its patronizing euphemisms—runs counter to that culture of trust this district says it’s keen on strengthening. 

Technology is seductive but not a useful supplement to human intelligence. To the contrary. It’s a distraction, a deceptive tool that may lead administrators to depend more on their Sentinel “alerts” (however subconsciously) than on their own instincts, their own networks and ranks. The technology’s unintended consequences can also spur more students to simply go incognito, to go underground in the social media world, privatizing accounts, faking locations, inventing personas, all of which would contribute more noise than light and further garble the technology’s alleged uses. Students are wise to snoopers.

Of course the Parkland massacre is the motive for companies like Social Sentinel to swoop down and rack up a few new contracts. (It landed the University of Virginia Police a few weeks ago—oddly for the same price of $18,500, though the university has almost twice as many students as Flagler’s district.) “Unfortunately with Parkland,” the school board attorney told me, referring to the shooter, “what we do know is that there were red flags all over that child’s social media, and indicating the threats he intended to do, and in addition to the outcry that was raised with the police, communications, there were several opportunities, but if they had been alerted, would they have been more vigilant?”

But they were alerted: The police knew. Social service agencies knew. Students and the administration knew. The failure wasn’t a lack of alerts, but a lack of response, and continuing to point to Parkland as the excuse for more monitoring misses the point Flagler’s students were making during that demonstration a few weeks ago. If you need alerts from faceless technology, you’ve not only already lost, you’ve surrendered your responsibility and hired a bogus proxy.

The superintendent and the school board are hoping to add more psychologists in schools. That $18,500 would certainly be spent more wisely toward that cost: the chances of a psychologist warding off a threat long before it becomes a threat is immeasurably better than that of a trolling system blindly fishing out a threat in the making. Social Sentinel has all the makings of an ideal extra tool, but it is itself a false positive. There’s nothing measured, nothing thoughtful about its application, and it’s fraught with pitfalls. The school board Tuesday should at least table the proposal and take stock of what it’s already doing very well by way of humane security and trust-building. Social Sentinel is not for Flagler.

Pierre Tristam is FlaglerLive’s editor. Reach him by email here or follow him @PierreTristam.

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52 Responses for “Flagler School Board Wants To Snoop on Students’ Social Media, And Maybe Yours. Wrong Move.”

  1. Kriete Mon says:

    They all need to be voted out, just for entertaining this idea. We dont need a big brother….

  2. Abraham Daniel Orozco says:

    1st the students, then the parents and workers?

  3. Jessica Keller Brown says:

    What a waste of funds and time not to mention the over step of boundaries.

    I understand the frustration the school must have with parents who don’t do their job in policing their children’s online activity but this isn’t the answer.

  4. Veteran says:

    Already being snooped by plenty of bad actors.

  5. Anita Jarrett-McKinnon says:

    Absolutely NOT! I want my tax money going to EDUCATE students on our RIGHTS, not to be spies on which is AGAINST our rights!

  6. Gkimp says:

    Great idea! Nothing to hide hear

  7. Denis Gotlib says:

    When security is viewed higher than liberty.

  8. Jamie Rahilly-Reyes says:

    They cant take the students on a field trip because theres no money for it but heres $18,000 to spy on peoples Facebook…

  9. Tara Kraemer says:

    Like the article says.. since when is it the school districts business to monitor activity that happens outside of school property outside of school hours? They are way over stepping the boundaries here! 😡 this should make everyone angry!

  10. Stretchem says:


  11. daughter Aunt etc. of military says:

    Granted it sounds like a good Idea.. It isn’t. Big brother watching over everyone isn’t a good idea. the Pendulum has swung to far now.

  12. Sibahan Sanders says:

    This is incredibly ridiculous. I really hope somewhere along the line there is no truth to this!

  13. private eye says:

    It seems this maybe the counties way of getting ahead of news before it what would be leaked or found out by the press. That way they and the sheriff’s department can have a meeting of the minds on how to spin it. If they take this route they better be ready to investigate everything thoroughly. Because if they put their foot in it and something slips through the cracks and a disaster happens or they overreact, its on them for playing cyber police.

  14. Ben Hogarth says:

    And so it begins…

    I wonder, how many times as a society we must learn the same lessons before we stop submitting ourselves to the whims of tyrants… however benevolent they may seem.

  15. brian johnson says:

    i hope they do this..frankly people you shouldnt put things in emails/tweets if you are not proud of them!!

  16. dogman says:

    i see big law suit coming to the city and the school board . GET READY !!!!!

  17. Anonymous says:

    This is disturbing. Law enforcement isn’t even allowed to do this. How about they make their private lives publicly accessible!

  18. LOL...who the f cares.... says:

    Oh ….all the people doing illegal stuff. I have nothing to hide.

  19. USA Lover says:

    George Orwell was a pretty smart man.

  20. Randy Jones says:

    But we simply MUST do SOMETHING

  21. Dave says:

    Sick Sick Sick, please keep our kids safe from these creepy companies trying to take away people’s freedom of expression and collecting data , this is turning my stomach, DO AWAY WITH THIS SOCIAL SENTINAL!!

  22. Peaches McGee says:

    George Orwell knew all along how our lives would end.

    Vive la Resistance!

  23. Linze says:

    Why is the school board running our lives?
    Teach the kids and stop wasting money ,it’s parents job to raise them right

  24. Little Town Big Problems says:

    The argument of “nothing to hide HERE” is a weak-minded argument. The bottom line is, where do you draw the line at what is acceptable snooping? Do you think they will stop at social media accounts? No. They will obtain a list of cellphone numbers in the area and start reading personal texts. What if you are jostling with a buddy and you say, “you are so dead man,” and you live across the street from one of the schools. The context of that message, if the entire thread is not read, would seem like a threat, and the next thing you know, SWAT is busting down your door while you’re having dinner with them pushing guns in your face, if they didn’t already shoot you.

    I have no SM accounts or presence online outside from a few postings like this on occasion, however, what they are proposing is just the beginning – where does it end? First it’s SM accounts, then texts, then your mail, then your email, then what shows you watch on TV, the movies you pay to see, the music you listen to, the video games you play…wake up, this is more than paranoia, this is about creating a world where you are no longer free to live unless it is by “society” approved or “corporation” approved events and standards. Animal Farm. A Brave New World. Fahrenheit 451. These books are great parallels to our world right now, and the ignorance of people standing down allowing these things to happen. Stand up for your personal rights – most of us have nothing to hide but that is not the point, no one should have their personal life violated and taken out of context to suit the ideas of a snooping firm. I bet they receive incentives or bonuses every time they “catch” something. It’s like Blackwater, only for pilfering SM accounts, and not the money and assets from war-torn nations. .

  25. Oh snap, it's pap. says:

    My understanding is that Social Sentinel scans information that has been posted publicly, then alerts. It does not snoop behind the scenes like Pierre Underwood wants you to believe. And guess what – the moment something catastrophic happens, this “outlet” will be first to point the finger as to why the district doesn’t do enough to protect our students and how there is no social responsibility. People – do your own research before you start assuming things. Just Google it.

  26. Ben Hogarth says:

    I guess what others have failed to understand here is that this sort of contract and scope of authority would assert that school officials have a jurisdiction above and beyond their schools. Of course they will argue that playing overseer with every students personal social media accounts will help them to protect all students, but I wonder what constitutional or legal authority do they truly have? Please show me the statute where the school board is provided deference to social media accounts and the personal loves of their students?

    I also find it ironic that those who would scream at the top of their lungs about an unfettered right to bear arms, would on the other hand, claim a pursuit of justice by eliminating rights guaranteed in the first. This is the manner in which many tyrants aspire.

    Let’s be frank about what is happening to this community, and quite a bit more honestly -this country. Failed parenting. We have also allowed unstable minds to become further perverted by disturbing propaganda trends in social media. The truth is that with education and advanced learning must also come advanced discipline. We need children like cattle through overly regulated and standardized educational structures. It’s unnatural and until we look at a new and more individualized and personalized form of educating in this country, we will continue to advance fewer and fewer. This decadence cannot be tolerated any longer and no amount of cyber stalking will change that.

    Perhaps the biggest problem isn’t flawed society – it’s the people at the top making these kinds of decisions. And until we change our brainwashed methods of voting, it will never change.

  27. Florida voter says:

    Can you say more about the inevitable false positives? How does Social Sentinel filter the possible alerts? Is it simply text search, or is there actually a person looking at the information? What happens if some event does happen and: 1) Social Sentinel didn’t send an alert, or 2) Social Sentinel did send an alert, but each administrator thought it was someone else’s job to review it, or 3) there was an alert but one of more of the district’s reviewers decided it was a false positive, or 4) they did act on an alert but did not or were not able to do enough? (Baker Act is only 72 hours)

    Also, one item that I always consider when a no-bid contract goes to some little known company: What, if any, ties does Social Sentinel have with some of our School Board members? How did they get in contact? Did Social Sentinel give any “perks” to the board members? Dinner? Computers? Money? Promises of kick-backs? I never trust no-bid contracts.

  28. Sky says:

    This is ridiculous. For all the people that live by saying “my life is an open book” your kidding yourself. Everyone wants there privacy, i mean sure watching what the students in middle school post on social media i can understand but EVERYONE? no. I wanna see how this apply’s to Law enforcement…or does it even?

  29. Anonymous says:

    Hey anyone, is this being paid for from taxes for the schools as an extra item? If it is than I would ask why public participation wasn’t present or asked about this, the company that is being contracted was it researched throughly, it would be very embarrassing if somehow itthere was a remote possibility that it done dealings with our government in the past

  30. tulip says:

    Too many kids have facebook accounts at a very young age and they say what they want with total disregard that their posts and pics, etc. can be looked at by most anyone. Also, kids are apt to divulge certain things about their parents that is personal. The same thing with cell phones. Even adults who value their privacy, put their whole lives info on the cell phone for anyone to get into. I’ve often wondered if the people who work for face book, twitter, cell phones, etc. sneak into peoples info. After all Zuckerberg’s people did.

    Someone mentioned in the article that people write things that are taken out of context or the person reading it just scans through it quickly, and the next thing you know the author of the post is in deep trouble. How many times have we said for instance, “if you do that I’ll kill you”meaning it would make the person really really mad and nothing more. Here come the cops because someone didn’t read it correctly and took it literally.

    FB, Twitter, cell phones, I pads are all EXCELLENT tools when used in the right way. However, those who have to be in contact with someone all the time and enter personal info into their devices that doesn’t need to be there, getting into arguments & nastiness on certain subjects and people are putting themselves “out there”. We see it all the time on forums and websites on the computer.

    I DO NOT think the school board, Sheriff or others should have access to people’s FB, Twitter accts etc. Although, if the kids are aware that they do, they might be more careful what they say to each other and “troublemaker groups”.etc would have a harder time organizing mischievous deeds for fear of being quickly found out and maybe less gang stuff and crimes would occur. People complain that their privacy is being invaded, but they are enabling that to happen. JMO

  31. Chris A Pickett says:

    Sorry to state this but once a group of society has decided it is willing to relinquish ANY of their rights, be it the 1st 2nd 3rd or ANY amendment to the Constitution, any of the other rights are in question as well.

  32. Dude says:

    “School officials are educators first and last”….So it is not the job of the school’s to provide a safe learning environment, or protect students, or stop bullying or harassment. The only job we have is to teach. We give schools and educators mixed messages. It’s not your job to protect students or to mentor them, just teach….but then a school shooting takes place and the school’s security measures are scrutinized. It’s not their job to mentor kids, just teach them. But then a student commits suicide because of bullying that nobody knows was going on because a kid is not going to “snitch” and schools didn’t do enough to stop it. School’s are now taking a stance to better protect kids and they are over-stepping their boundaries. Teachers are under-paid and under-appreciated but don’t raise my taxes to pay them. I am sure a lot of people in the education world are open to your suggestions on how to make it better. Why don’t you run for office and change the system for better instead of complaining and criticizing.

  33. Chris A Pickett says:

    What is this, YOU don’t like the idea of someone being able to inherently silence ones voice based on that someone’s own personal ideals? Kinda like how a LOT of things are done……….Pick and choose what they feel is inappropriate?……………Think about it.

  34. Greg says:

    If you want privacy get your own computer and use your own network. The stuff these kids are using the school computers at home for is disgusting. They stay up all night and many are doing poor in school. I know from experience. Girlfriends daughter no longer brings a computer home.

  35. mindseye says:

    Little by little, we are ALL losing our privacy. We are being watched and listened to constantly. I’m a law abiding citizen BUT, MY business is STILL MY BUSINESS. Cameras in public places, fine. Strangers monitoring private conversations….nope! Not unless a judge has been provided evidence that it is warranted.

  36. William Moya says:

    Fascism is now in full view in flagler county.

    The interred idea that Sheriff Staly was in the dark on this, is risible.

    The Chamber of Commerce, a very convenient organ of Capitalism, is counting and welcoming a new member.

    Most humans, out of fear, take solace in law and order and would sacrifice their most revealed and cherished values.

    The police, as well as the military reason to be is to protect the state, not as is commonly believed the citizens.

  37. Chris A Pickett says:

    If one feels they are being watched, e.g.what they say and do on the internet, you are effectively silencing them……..Silencing is censorship.

  38. Joe says:

    When do we the public get access to all internet activity to monitor of school board employees? I would love to be able to monitor and read board members, administration and teachers and staff emails and such, after all, you are funded through tax payer dollars. SMH!!!

  39. andrew says:

    i disagree with this because how do we know if they arent taking our personal information.

  40. Jon Hardison says:

    Florida Voter gets it.

    Question: Did the school board review the product in enough detail to ascertain HOW Social Sentinel’s product works?
    As alarmist as all this is, keyword alerts are something any of us has been able to do for NO COST for decades, so what exactly are we being asked to pay for? A finely tuned keyword list? Administration of some sort?

    Florida Voter said it best: Okay fools – you have the data. Now what are you going to do with it? It seems to me the board has thought about the potential benefits this power could have but have given little to no thought to the liability. Again, Florida Voter pointed this out perfectly, but there are tons of other issues.

    Google Alerts are probably one of the best known ways anyone can keep an eye on the Internet. Most people use it to be notified when something that mentions them or their families hits the web, but you can use it for anything.
    Google Alerts relies on a “spider”. A spider is basically a reader that autonomously crawls around the web (get it?) looking for new and/or modified content. Google has invested a LOT in spidering which is why they tend to be pretty quick about finding new information, but this process has limits. There are no guarantees as to WHEN a spider is going to find something. Has the school board asked how Social Sentinel’s spiders work? Do they have their own or are they using Google’s, Microsoft’s or some other provider?

    How much time should pass between a questionable post hitting the Interwebs and the transmission of an alert? 5 seconds? 10 minutes? 3 days?
    If someone posts a threat and Facebook (for example) removes the post and reports the threat before a Social Sentinel Spider sees it, what happens then?

    Is the data collected public?
    Are the alerts public?
    Can the board be compelled to produce alerts, or the underlying data used to produce alerts, in unrelated matters in the courts?
    Does the board have a responsibility to share data they collect about students with other schools if students transfer?

    Keeping in mind that Flagler Schools won’t be spying on students – They’ll be spying on ALL OF US:
    What if an alert goes out about a person that happens to be a parent? Does the school board forward the alert to DCF and/or the Sheriff’s Office?
    What if an alert goes out about a person that isn’t a parent or related to schools in any way? Does the school board forward the alert to the Sheriff’s Office?
    Once the school board has this power what are their responsibilities?

    We keep talking about “false positives”. What does that mean?
    How does a school board member figure out if an alert is credible? Are they even qualified, and if so, how?

    I’m torn on this one. Fact is, as much as I don’t like it, this has always been possible and we’re all subjected to some form of this type of oversight right now. But it seems obvious to me that the wrong people are asking for the wrong information in this case. Information they’re not equipped to interpret or empowered to act on.

    I’d vote NO if I was being asked but it’s clear this gadget is just too cool for them to pass up.
    Y’all need to put this to bed. You don’t understand what you’re getting yourselves into.
    I’d like my educators to educate. Leave this to law enforcement if you’ve got to leave it to anyone at all. (Hint: You don’t.)

  41. Palm Coast Mom says:

    Ooh boy! So if some kindly neighbor posts the words “photo bomb” on her facebook page, what, an alert of her location goes to some idiot on the school board? Ridiculous. Ask Jax how well their short lived system faired. High school kids don’t use FB or Instagram any more. Very few even use Snapchat. So I guess once this security system busts, our private cell phone communications will be up for grabs? Why can’t this half penny tax be used towards teen outreach?

  42. teacher says:

    If we keep all of the cell phones at home during the school day our children would actually learn something. Cell phones and laptops have been destroying our educational system. No need to spy on them, just keep them from using it during school hours.

  43. Randy Jones says:

    From the Flagler County Schools CODE OF CONDUCT (approved June 20, 2017)
    Wireless Communication Devices
    Students may possess cellular telephones, iPods, tablets, and other wireless communication
    devices at school, on buses, and at school functions. The device shall not be used during the
    school day without staff approval.

  44. Just me says:

    Well the “progressives” have already subverted the First and second Amendments so now on too #4 next will be 5 & 6.

  45. Dave says:

    Remove all computers from our schools ,the kids don’t need laptops they need to learn with pen and pencil, no student should do their school work on a computer with info on their personal education status available for hackers to steal

  46. Nancy N. says:

    Greg – this isn’t about the school computers. This is about a system that scans ALL content in a local area on social media. So no matter what device a person is using, if their profile or content contains any references or geotags that identifies to the Flagler/Palm Coast area, it would get swept up in this monitoring. So the school system will be monitoring what YOU are posting publicly on any social media accounts, and possibly storing it, and sharing it and even turning it over to law enforcement. Every single resident and visitor of this county will be being monitored. Not just the students and their school issued devices.

    This is completely unacceptable action by the school board and I predict will be the subject of a class action lawsuit by the community if the school board adopts it.

  47. Anonymous says:

    Social media was specifically created for intelligence-gathering. Why are people shocked when it is used for intelligence-gathering?

  48. Anonymous says:

    Chris A Pickett – I second your motion. Benjamin Franklin once said: “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”

  49. Oh snap, it's pap. says:

    Oh my god… it’s scanning PUBLIC POSTS that people posted PUBLICLY… it’s not snooping or reading private messages. It’s no different than somebody reading replies on Facebook – or Flaglerlive for that matter. Take five minutes to research the software…

  50. smarterthanmost says:

    $18,500 seems cheap to avoid another Parkland. Actually, social media had warned the FBI and the Broward Sheriffs Department regarding the shooter. The failure of law enforcement is what should be investigated. The NSA currently records all phone calls, and all SM sites mine their postings. Which of you think this is going to provide something different. Your liberties aren’t being reduced by this, that happened the minute you signed up for Facebook.

  51. Jan Reeger says:

    As I write, there are 50 posts here. How many have children or grandchildren or great grandchildren in the Flagler School System? I do. And if you do, are you attending School Board Meetings or writing a letter with your opinions. If not, you should be.

  52. Really says:

    Grown ups actually use it wow seems like a kid thing

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