Schools step up social media monitoring

By: | June 21, 2016

Technology is a vital part of students’ lives: 92 percent of teens say they go online daily and 24 percent say they are logged in “almost constantly” according to a 2015 report by the Pew Research Center.

Most of that involves social media (Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram), which is sometimes used to bully, make threats and even publicize suicidal thoughts. Increasingly, schools monitor social media to protect students and prevent an incident before it occurs.

One challenge for schools, though, has been overcoming the perception that monitoring jeopardizes student privacy.

“These are all public messages that are going on Twitter or Instagram, or attached to a Facebook page” says Mike Richez, a former district technology director and vice president of business development for OSC World—which developed Digital Fly, a social media monitoring product.

Some districts handle monitoring in-house, while others outsource. Either way, the goal is to help students—such as stopping violence or finding therapeutic care for someone whose social media activity shows evidence of a drug problem or depression.

Many monitoring tools include filters that allow users to screen for certain words and terms (across multiple languages) in a specific geographic region. Such tools can also be used to gauge community sentiment on a school bond proposal, budget vote or board agenda item.

Digital Fly

OSC World

Digital Fly now monitors Facebook along with Twitter and Instagram. Users can receive instant alerts, create watch lists, analyze trending items and track communication by geographic location. Digital Fly also provides an anonymous tip line and the ability to search social media history.

Let’s Talk

K-12 Insight

By continually monitoring various social media and news sources for trending issues, Let’s Talk provides immediate alerts so educators can respond quickly to the concerns of parents and other community stakeholders. The cloud-based product also measures response times to a district’s social media posts, tracks most popular subjects in a district, and offers custom analytics reports to assess the effectiveness of monitoring.

Social Sentinel

Social Sentinel

This service provides three tools to identify threats on social media. The Sentinel Search Threat Library contains preloaded, refined safety searches. Also, a special algorithm allows for targeted geographic social media searches, which is useful for tracking events like class trips. Finally, optimized oversight and resource management allows the monitoring of topics that are specific to a district or region.

Blackboard Social Media Manager


In addition to managing all of a district’s social media accounts on one dashboard, this product also tracks and aggregates keywords and relevant hashtags at the district, school or group level to better monitor what parents and community members are saying. It can also identify the most influential users in a community to help prioritize and manage responses.

K12 Social


An all-in-one social media platform with real-time tools that track and alert users to district mentions in local news, social media and web-based sources such as personal blogs. Keyword monitoring and identification of politicians or media outlets (anyone who has influence) are available, as are reports measuring community engagement and the reach of communications.


Impero Education Pro

The tool features an updated keyword library that includes terms used by students in the United States related to bullying, self-harm and radicalization. The software uses algorithms to detect and alert educators when a student uses words or phrases that match a term in the keyword library. It also allows educators to analyze the activity so they can take action to stop potential problems before they start.

Social Media Monitoring Service

Geo Listening

The service is designed to identify when and where to intervene with students based on public posts made to social networks. School site administrators do not have time to cull through many false positives that other monitoring tools yield. Expert analysts and leading technologies can pinpoint potential problems and give site-specific knowledge every day so administrators can focus on helping students in emotional need.

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