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Today, I give you a frightening story about free speech censorship and watchlists just in time for the countdown to Halloween.
A recent article in The Tennessean reveals how the Williamson County School District (WCS) is monitoring students free speech and social media posts.
The WCS recently implemented a "threat surveillance program" called Gaggle, that is so invasive and frightening one would be hard pressed not to call it a "gag" program that limits students free speech.
Public & private schools are joining the ranks of alphabet soup surveillance agencies like DHS, the FBI and the NSA claiming they cannot reveal surveillance details.
The Tennessean was able to shed some light on what Gaggle monitors by saying it, "operates using a mathematical algorithm to identify high risk words and phrases when students are logged into the district’s server."
Gaggle's video was a little more revealing, claiming that they monitor students social media posts 24/7 for things like:
- insulting language
- hate speech
- provocative images
- drug use
- alcohol use and much more
When school districts and private corporations start monitoring students for things like profanity and insulting language, we should all be worried because it will not end there.
Soon social media providers will monitor everyone.
Parents think school districts have crossed the line with Gaggle.
"I'm concerned about the mining of all the other student-written text, regarding bullying, profanity, or anything offensive. Aren't kids going to be too nervous to write anything that's potentially controversial? What kind of education will they get if they're walking on eggshells not to offend the computer algorithm?” WCS parent Thomas Morgan said.
Gaggle's monitoring of students is a lot more invasive than what parents are being told.
Gaggle's "Safety Management Dashboard" allows school staff and law enforcement to identify and track individual students who have the highest number of incidents.
- Which of my schools has the highest amount of incidents?
- What educational tools are my students using most frequently?
- How severe are the incidents Gaggle Safety Representatives discover?
- Has the number of inappropriate incidents increased or decreased over time?
- How does my school or district’s incident rate compare with national averages?