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Cyberbullying prompts social media snooping | News

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Cyberbullying prompts social media snooping

St. Petersburg, Florida -- With kids expressing all sorts of thoughts and feelings through their keyboards, social media sites host the good, the bad, and the ugly.

As a result, a California Company called Geo Listening, that provides kind of a high-tech snooping service, is contracting with school districts.

The company monitors all sorts of social media sites for key words that might tip off a company analyst to a bully or a student thinking about harming themselves. That information, is then provided to school officials.

Company founder Chris Frydrych gives this recent example, "What they found was that a student had been bullied that morning on the school bus, because she had posted from the school bus to her social page, 'First day of school and it's already starting again.'"

Two student suicides, where teens jumped to their deaths on campus, prompted a suburban Los Angeles school district to sign up for a pilot project last spring and continue to work with Geo Listening this fall.

SEE ALSO: Lakeland bullying suicide victim's funeral had colorful tribute

Superintendent Richard Sheehan did not return a 10 News email Monday, but he's been quoted in published reports as saying the system works well and that it may have even prevented a death.

However, there have been critics -- most citing privacy concerns. And teens 10 News talked with today gave the idea mixed reviews.

"I wouldn't like it. I wouldn't want them going through my stuff," said Robinson High freshman Kaleena Perez. But she added, "But the bullying stuff is good."

"I think it would be fine, as long as they don't use my information for anything else," said 19-year-old Lucky Harris, who is on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

But Frydrych emphasizes that the only social sites that are scanned are public; there is no hacking into people's accounts. So he says his company is just providing schools and parents with another set of eyes and ears.

"So there's more information readily available in a timely manner, so when a kid needs help, they can actually get that help."

The Superintendent of the Glendale Unified School District did not return a 10 News email, but Richard Sheehan has been quoted in published reports as saying he's pleased with how the system has worked and that it perhaps even prevented a death.


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