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Glendale School District Hires Company To Monitor Students' Social Media Posts

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Be advised, students of Glendale school district, your public social media posts are being monitored.

The Glendale Unified School District just hired a Hermosa Beach company to monitor its students social media posts for a heads-up on vandalism, bullying, truancy and self-harm.

Superintendent Richard Sheehan told CBS 2 that Geo Listening is analyzing the posts of 13,000 students at eight Glendale middle and high schools.

"The whole purpose is student safety," said Sheehan of the program, which costs $40,500 a year. "Basically, it just monitors for keywords where if a student is considering harming themselves [or] harming someone else."

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He said that during a trial run of the service last year, Geo Listening and the district were able to intervene with a suicidal student.

"The administrator was contacted at the school site. Then we made contact with the student, the student's family and we got them the appropriate help," he said.

"With modern technology, unfortunately we have to try and stay a step ahead of the kids," Sheehan told NBC 4. "We're not trying to hide anything, because the whole point of this is student safety."

The program was instituted after Drew Ferraro, a 15-year-old student at Crescenta Valley High School, jumped to his death from the roof of the school last year, NBC reports.

Chris Frydrych, the CEO of Geo Listening told CBS, "We have provided information to school districts, which has led to numerous successful interventions on behalf of students that intended self-harm, suicide, bullying, truancy, substance abuse, and vandalism. We monitor only public posts to social networks," he explained. "We do not monitor privatized pages, SMS, MMS, email, phone calls, voicemails."

Some students have started a Facebook page called Remove Your School, which shows students how to remove the name of their school so their posts, in theory, can't be tracked, NBC reports. We couldn't find it on Facebook, so the page appears to have the appropriately private settings.

"If you think it's a problem, just put your posts private so no one else can see them besides your friends," student Michael Aguiar told NBC.

Geo Listening insists there is no invasion of privacy since they only monitor public posts.

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