This year, California's Glendale Unified School District became the first school system to do the creepy, 1984-predicted inevitable: Monitor 14,000 of its middle and high schoolers' Facebook and Twitter accounts. The $40,500-a-year program is being run by an outside firm, which promises not to hack any 15-year-olds' pages—just "read their public posts."
Superintendent Richard Sheehan say the program has been installed to secure students' safety. Monitoring Facebook accounts allowed Glendale to intervene when one student was comtemplating suicide earlier in the year, and the district can now look for signs of bullying, violence, skipping class, and drug use. It's interesting to see how Glendale's little program mirrors broader U.S. electronic tracking: There are positives—Glendale can maybe prevent future school shootings!—mixed with undeniable invasions of privacy—high-schoolers can get in trouble for holding a fucking red cup!
“This is the government essentially hiring a contractor to stalk the social media of the kids. When the government — and public schools are part of the government — engages in any kind of line-crossing and to actually go and gather information about people away from school, that crosses a line."