California school district hires firm to eavesdrop on students' social media activity


#1

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#2

No invasion of privacy because they're just monitoring public shit. Yeah, ok. If someone spends all day following you around in public places and taking pictures, I'm sure that's not an invasion of privacy either.


#3

Hey Kids! 'Studies in Contemporary Civics 101' is exciting and mandatory. Learn to lie, hide, and trust no one, invaluable skills for the Benthamite dystopia we are grooming you for!

Even better, this curriculum is fully integrated with the objectives of differentiated instruction: Our ablest learners will gain valuable experience hiding any trace of deficiency from college admissions officers. Promising athletes will learn to manage their public image even after a few drunken...'indiscretions'... against somebody much less important than winning the big game. Even our pre-prison track of 'learners' can gain years of experience for how to live on parole!

This is Exciting!


#4

Hey, don't hog all the credit; adults have been teaching those skills to kids for thousands of years. We're just getting them ready for life in the New World Order!


#5

It's weird that the school would basically take responsibility to be in loco parentis 24/7 rather than the usual school hours thing. Isn't that setting them up for major liability if miss 'the signs' in some kid?


#6

IT, like Tequila and handguns, doesn't enable genuinely new forms of human error; but it certainly makes them more efficient. Plus, unlike Tequila and handguns, it's allowed on campus.


#7

Oh don't worry guys. No school administrator has ever been caught abusing their authority with digital monitoring tools. Nope, just going to be looking for bullies. Not monitoring you for other behaviours in any way.


#8

Something something Mark Twain something hammers and nails something.


#9

Great, let's hammer that 'don't be honest about who you are' lesson home as much as we can, because that's working out GREAT, isn't it?


#10

So, 'Geo Listening' is a 1-10 employee, privately held company founded just this year. Its HQ is a deeply undistinguished building ~30 miles from the Glendale Unified School District's primary address.

Anybody who already has a LinkedIn account (or wants to take one for the team) feel like a little...theoretical inquiry... into social and/or vocational overlaps between the movers and shakers of Glendale Unified and this no doubt plucky and independent outfit?

I know that if I were (by some hellish quirk of fate) turned into a guidance counselor, I'd be pretty strongly tempted to leave, hoist my 'Googlestalker for hire' shingle, and cash in a few chips. Certainly easier, and probably pays better, than listening to the little brats unmediated by algorithms...


#11


#12

There is somebody we could attempt this experiment on. His bio page says that he likes significant time commitments to community involvement. I'm sure he'd be delighted.


#13

Heh. This is not the community involvement he's looking for.

I love it.


#14

So, my district requires me to have a FB account, which is so many different sorts of wrong I can not even begin. However, an upside is that I have friended students, and thus notice when they are in crisis because sometimes there are cries for help on FB, and then I have the resources to help them. This is how functional human societies work. We watch out for one another and help when we can. The idea of outsourcing this to a for-profit company kind of makes me queasy though.


#15

Luckily, that 'Marx' character who talked about the negative effects of market-rationalization of human interaction was, like, totally a commie, so we can ignore any potential problems with this scheme.

Ideally, in the next stage of this program, we can adopt principles of consumer psychology for targeted marketing suited to the unique tastes of bullies, victims, and callous bystanders alike!


#16

"Motto
Preparing Our Students for Their Future"

See? It's merely an educational initiative!


#17

Well it sure is nice the Glendale school district has all this surplus money to spend spying on kids. I mean they would not want to spend it on frivolous things like textbooks and such.


#18

Don’t most all social media things require you to approve follow requests unless you explicitly turn that switch off? So this firm has no way to monitor a kid unless the kid approves a request from the creepy-sounding “Geo Listening” account, right? And haven’t we been teaching our kids to be extra careful about who they interact with and what they reveal to strangers online?

Or does the school district require students to accept certain follower requests?

Or is Geo Listening snooping on the kids with nefarious hackery?


#19

Why is it that anyone with a scrap of authority becomes a psychopath?


#20

Speaking of 'honesty about who you are', does it strike anybody else that geolistening.com is a bit...sparse?

No puff-piece executive bios, only the vaguest information on what is collected and how it is crunched, 'contact' only through a form, minimal sales materials and no case studies, etc.

A little poking suggests that this may be a small-time show: whois records for the domain point to 'Chris Frydrych', same address, same phone number(and 919 is a North Carolina area code, so it's a west coast company doing business under somebody's ported number. Since earlier mentions of that number as contact information, from a Michigan educational suppliers press release show the same number associated with Chris while working for an outfit in Herndon, VA, my guess would be a personal cell number.) Same number (and address) also run 'k12mba.com'

Same number, different address, shows up in connection with 'k12insight.com' as contact data in a list of approved IT suppliers for California schools. A company of that name and location still exists; but with different contact info and no mention of Chris I could find. (Though, according to the press release linked above, 'k12insight' is the k12-branded offering of 'Zarca Interactive' and the 'leadership' and 'location' pages of both k12insight and Zarca Interactive show an identical list of names and faces and the same HQ, though Zarca also has at least one US satellite office and an Indian dev center.)

His LinkedIn page shows no evidence of direct tech skills, so there is presumably at least one bot-herder involved in this offering; but I can't find a thing on who there's minions are. Chris looks like quite a veteran of pushing buzzwords on the k12 sector, though.