Chicago — After the mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas, social media monitoring apps are struggling to justify their levels of surveillance.
Apps like Social Sentinel, which the Uvalde school district experimented with, claim to identify and alert schools to threats based on social media conversations. But some privacy advocates told the Verge that the harm of that kind of software outweighs the benefits.
“Could you imagine schools using toxic materials to build classrooms, even if it hadn’t met any safety standards? No,” said Hye Jung Han, a researcher at Human Rights Watch specializing in child rights. “Similarly, to use unproven, untested surveillance technologies on children, without first checking whether they are safe to use, exposes children to an unacceptable risk of harm.”
The Brennan Center for Justice outlined a range of civil and human rights concerns stemming from expanded social media monitoring in K-12 schools, including that it’s not a reliable method to predict mass violence; it invades students’ privacy; and it can disproportionately burden minority, underserved or vulnerable students
An 18-year-old man — who friends said posted several dark messages and warnings on social media that something bad was going to happen — opened fire May 24 at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, killing 19 kids and two teachers before he was fatally shot by police. It was the deadliest school shooting in nearly a decade.