Hart County schools to use social media monitoring service

At Monday’s meeting of the Hart County Board of Education, board members gave a thumbs up (OK, they actually raised their hand to vote in favor of) to a request by Superintendent Jay Floyd’s recommendation to use Sentinal Solutions’ social media and email monitoring service.

Floyd said the service will be another component in the system’s safety and security measures.

This is a part of our safety and security package and I feel like it’s something that would be a win-win for the system, and show our due diligence to the community in showing our interest in monitoring these areas,” said Floyd.

Floyd said the service comes in three components- social media monitoring, email monitoring and a tip app. He first talked about social media monitoring.

The first one is social media scanning. When I say social media scanning, they have contracts with Facebook, with Twitter, with Instagram, with Reddit, with a lot of the popular social media sites. The question is has been asked, ‘Do they have it with Snapchat’ and I will say, and I say this for our parents as well, if your kids have Snapchat, you need to make sure they get rid of it. It’s a predator app and it cannot be monitored. There’s nothing about Snapchat that can be monitored. If it could, this company would be monitoring it,” said Floyd.

The superintendent then talked about how social media monitoring works with Social Sentinal.

Basically the way it was explained to me, anything that would harm someone else or that person- if they would harm themselves, that would send up a red flag. You can set it up to monitor bullying, suicide, threats, threats to other people, threats to the school system, and they have the ability to do that with these social media sites,” said Floyd.

Floyd said the service will also monitor the school system’s email as well.

The next one is the Gmail product and this will be the easiest one to explain. If you’re a district that has Gmail, which we do, then they also offer scanning of email. It scans email using the same method it would use to scan social media. That is something that we need. We should be monitoring our email because every student has a Gmail account, has a Gmail address,” said Floyd.

The service also comes with an app that allows users to send tips to the school system.

The last section, it’s my favorite, is called Share It. Share It is a tip line for students, for faculty members, for parents, for anybody that has this app and is associated with us. There’s an app that you can put on your Ipad, you can put it on your phone, you can also do it through our website. I’m also sure there’s a way you can do it through Gmail as well,” said Floyd.

The service will cost the system $13,600 for all three services, which averages out to about $4 per student.

Floyd told board members they did not have to approve the purchase but he was asking them to let him know they were in favor of using the service.

A vote was taken and board members voted unanimously to support the superintendent’s decision.