School to monitor students’ social media posts

In an interesting development, CNN is reporting that a California school district is spending over $40,000 on monitoring students’ Facebook posts, comments, tweets and the like for  a year.

The district in Glendale, California, is paying $40,500 to a firm to monitor and report on 14,000 middle and high school students’ posts on Twitter, Facebook and other social media for one year.

Though critics liken the monitoring to government stalking, school officials and their contractor say the purpose is student safety.

As classes began this fall, the district awarded the contract after it earlier paid the firm, Geo Listening, $5,000 last spring to conduct a pilot project monitoring 9,000 students at three high schools and a middle school. Among the results was a successful intervention with a student “who was speaking of ending his life” on his social media, said Chris Frydrych, CEO of the firm.

Do you think this is a good way to keep students safe or an invasion of privacy? Read the whole story and see the video here.

Anonymity, privacy and security online – 2013 Pew Report

A new survey by Pew Internet reveals that:

  • 86% of internet users have taken steps online to remove or mask their digital footprints—ranging from clearing cookies to encrypting their email.
  • 55% of internet users have taken steps to avoid observation by specific people, organizations, or the government.
  • 21% of internet users have had an email or social networking account compromised or taken over by someone else without permission.
  • 12% have been stalked or harassed online.
  • 11% have had important personal information stolen such as their Social Security Number, credit card, or bank account information.
  • 6% have been the victim of an online scam and lost money.
  • 6% have had their reputation damaged because of something that happened online.
  • 4% have been led into physical danger because of something that happened online.

Although the survey was completed in the United States, there’s certainly transfer of thoughts and anxieties that affect Australians as well. Read the whole report here.

Ask.fm makes changes to safety policy

For a while now, the social media site Ask.fm has been in the news, after complaints about abuse leading to suicides. Stuff.co.nz reports that:

…it has about 65 million users.

But half of them are under 18 – meaning that the site’s active user base consists largely of children.

Part of the site’s problem is that it’s a social media site with virtually no privacy settings and no real identity controls.

Facebook, by contrast, has made efforts to ensure that a high percentage of its accounts belong to real people – and it deletes the accounts of fake users.

It also has privacy controls. You can lock down your account completely, if need be, shutting out the world.

You can’t do any of that on Ask.fm.

Now it seems that Ask.fm is in the process of changing its safety policy. TechCrunch reports

Ask.fm said today it will make the report button more visible, and will be adding a dedicated report category for ‘bullying and harassment’ — committing to making these changes next month. It also said it will increase the visibility of an (extant) option to opt-out of receiving anonymous questions to help users moderate the kind of content they receive from other users. This change will be implemented in October.

The Australian Broadcasting Commission aired this story in May about abuse on social media sites including ask.fm.

 

Like, post, share

The Australian Communications and Media Authority has published the final version of the report Like, post, share: young Australians’ experience of social media.

Some of the results include:

  • Two thirds of 12-13 year olds (67 per cent) used a social networking service (SNS) in the last four weeks on a computer, 85 per cent of 14-15 year olds have done this, as have 92 per cent of 16-17 year olds.
  • The younger age group (eight to 11 years) are active social network users – 78 per cent of eight to nine year olds and 92 per cent of 10-11 year olds have used a social network. The most popular social network amongst this younger age group was YouTube—more than half of the eight to nine year olds surveyed (53 per cent) and the majority of 10-11 year olds (69 per cent) had used this site.
  • The majority of 12-17 year olds reported having used a social network,– especially those aged 14-17 years (97 per cent of 14-15 year old and 99 per cent of 16-17 year old internet users).
  • Facebook was the most popular social network service for 12-17 year olds. The majority of Facebook users use the site at least daily and in some cases, more often. For example, the majority of Facebook users aged 14 and over in our study were more likely to use Facebook more than once a day (47 to 50 per cent) than daily (32 per cent). (page 8)
  • Twenty one per cent of 14-15 year olds reported having been cyberbullied, compared with four per cent of eight to nine year olds. Reported experiences of cyberbullying amongst 10-17 year olds appears stable since 2009, but has marginally increased for the youngest age group (eight to nine year olds).
  • The children and young people who reported that they had been cyberbullied were also asked who they told, and the majority did tell someone. All the eight to 11 year olds who had experienced cyberbullying told someone, and the majority of the older children did so as well (89 per cent of 12-13 year olds, 93 per cent of 14-15 year olds and 87 per cent of 16-17 year olds told someone).
  • Thirteen per cent of 16-17 year olds reported that within their group of friends, either they or someone else has sent sexually suggestive nude or nearly nude photos or videos of themselves to someone else. Eighteen per cent of 16-17 year olds reported that they or someone within their group of friends had received sexually suggestive nude or nearly nude photos or videos of someone else. Parents underestimated the extent to which their children were exposed to sexting.

Read the whole report here.

Online behaviour fact sheet

The Line, an Australian government website that helps young adults decide where they draw the line in lots of areas of their lives, has developed an online behaviour fact sheet designed for parents. Included are ten tips to protect kids online:

  • Limit the time they spend online – set clear boundaries and stick to them
  • Get protector software on your computers that blocks access to risky sites.
  • Get involved with, and understand the technology your child is using
  • Direct your kid to age-appropriate sites and find out about the sites they are visiting
  • Allow internet use only in shared family areas at home
  • Explain that they must not give out their phone number or address online at any time
  • Encourage them to report behaviour that makes them feel uncomfortable or afraid.
  • Without scaring them, explain that stranger danger also works online.
  • Ask your child to let you know if someone your child has met online wants to get in contact or meet face to face.
  • Make sure they understand what behaviour is acceptable online, both from them and others.

Read the whole fact sheet here.

Fears for generation online taken too far?

This article, published by Essential Kids, will help put parents’ minds at ease when it comes to worrying about the dangers their children may face online.

Fears for generation online taken too far? explains:

Every era has its own moral panic, and there’s no doubt in many minds that the peril stalking today’s children comes cloaked in the garb of social media. It’s not surprising that many parents, teachers and health professionals are worried when headlines regularly implicate online social media as a factor in everything from school bullying to teen suicide…  The truth is that most kids above a certain age use social media and online networking sites, and the vast majority do so without major incident.

If you read the comments on pretty much any article about the internet gone wrong you’d be forgiven for thinking that for most kids it’s a jungle out there and that inattentive parents are to blame, but the actual figures show that only 3% of children using the internet experience some kind of threatening event online and 98% of parents implement safety and security strategies around internet use at home.

Read the whole piece here.

Footballer suspended over umpire Twitter rant

Today the Herald Sun is reporting that a Victorian footballer has been suspended over public tweets criticising umpires. Although the footballer, Noble Park player George Angelopoulos, says that his account was used by someone else, the Eastern Football League still suspended him for two games. The Herald Sun explains:

 In a league first, the EFL hit the dual Noble Park premiership player with the two-match ban for social-media misdemeanour, having previously slapped clubs and players with only fines and suspended sentences.

EFL chief executive Rob Sharpe said the board considered the tweet “unbecoming of a member of the league”.

Although we can’t comment on Angelopoulos’s defence, this is yet another example of how posts on social media can affect us in day-today life. As always, think before you post.

Teenagers are anonymously posting cruel remarks about themselves on social media

The Age has recently reported that in a bizarre cry for help, some teenagers who appear to be victims of cyberbullying are actually using social media platforms to self harm.

Last year, researchers at the Massachusetts Aggression Reduction Centre found that up to 10 per cent of first-year university students had ”falsely posted a cruel remark against themselves, or cyberbullied themselves, during high school”.

For the ”digital self-harmer” the presence of an audience appears to serve other purposes too. Anonymously calling oneself a ”loser” online allows them to test out other people’s attitudes: do other people see me this way too? Is my perception of myself shared universally?

Read the whole article here.

Tweets can be used as evidence

In the last few months, tweets and Facebook posts by people who have allegedly committed crimes have led media and police directly to them. Now comes the news that tweets can be used in evidence by courts of law. The Age reports:

London: British lawyers have warned that people’s tweets could be used as evidence against them, after a California teenager had a manslaughter charge upgraded to murder partly because of boasts on Twitter. 

Barrister Mark McDonald told Britain’s Metro newspaper: ‘‘ The police … may ask someone alleging rape to send a message to the person they are accusing asking why they did it. Their reply can then be used in evidence.’’

 

Another social media sacking

Yet another high profile case of someone being sacked due to social media posts has hit the news. The Sydney Morning Herald reports:

An interior designer who used a social networking site to try to connect with potential customers for his out-of-hours business has been sacked by his day job.

Bradford Pedley’s main employer, Canberra design firm peckvonhartel, sacked Mr Pedley hours after hearing about the LinkedIn email, which pledged to expand his fledgling business ”to a full-time design practice”.

So although this was not a post that involved bullying or illegal activity, the employer took exception to the employee’s post which resulted in dismissal. A reminder of how powerful social media can be and how we all must think before we post.

Read the whole article here.