Your Guide to Understanding Important Differentiators Between Social Media Monitoring & Social Media Scanning for Schools
The digital world is a complex place, and that complexity can be polarizing. On one hand, the accessibility of information through digital and social channels raises legitimate concerns around issues like privacy, free speech, monitoring, surveillance, and bias – all of which need to be addressed and taken very seriously. On the other hand, because this method of communication is still relatively new in comparison to historical, non-digital techniques, there is an increased potential for misinformation from those without the experience required to be called an expert – which at times can be hard to detect based on lack of awareness and understanding.
Now, as if that wasn’t enough, layer in the life-or-death stakes of physical, social, and emotional safety.
This intersection – or collision – between all these factors makes social media scanning an especially confusing environment to navigate.
We understand because we help people traverse these complexities every single day.
It is our hope that this resource serves as a valuable tool to help you and many others recognize the differentiators between social media monitoring and social media scanning.
Here you will learn:
- How to Properly Define Social Media Monitoring and Social Media Scanning
- How Social Media Scanning Actually Works – What is DOES and DOES NOT Do
- How to Answer Questions on Hot Button Issues like Privacy, Monitoring, Surveillance and Bias
- Why it’s Vital to Identify Harmful Acts at Digital Speed
- How We Can Help
Why This is So Important
There is no doubt the use of social media is a pillar of teen culture today. According to Facts for Families© from the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP, 2018), surveys show that on average, teens are online almost nine hours a day, not including time for homework. Additionally:
- 90% of teens ages 13-17 have used social media
- 75% percent report having at least one active social media profile
- 51% report visiting a social media site at least daily
It is vital for educators, parents and communities to understand the risks that come with this level of social media usage and find ways to mitigate against the following:
- Exposure to harmful or inappropriate content (e.g., sex, drugs, violence, etc.)
- Exposure to dangerous people
- Cyber bullying, a risk factor for depression and suicide
- Oversharing personal information
- Exposure to excessive advertisements
- Privacy concerns including the collection of data about teen users
- Identity theft or being hacked
- Interference with sleep, exercise, homework, or family activities
How Does Social Media Scanning Work?
Now that we have outlined what social media scanning is and what it does, let’s get into how it works.
Social media scanning uses language analysis technology to process large volumes of social media posts to first determine if they are related to a school district, and then determine if they contain threats. By applying linguistic concepts such as sentence structure, word meaning, tense and tone (or sentiment), we can help analytical models better understand whether a particular communication is threatening or concerning.
These logic-based processes “understand” various pieces of language in a systematic manner and pay attention to the following:
Sentiment – Sentiment measures the emotional quality of language through analysis to help understand positive and negative emotions – words that express happiness, fear, harm or anger. Clues about sentiment can also be derived from emojis.
Same word, different meaning – Sentences may have the same grammatical structure, but the meanings can be entirely different. Consider the word ‘shoot,’ which can be synonymous with ‘darn’, be in reference to a camera / photo or mean the action of a gun.
Tense – Using tense, social media scanning accounts for when the harm occurs. An author may be writing about an event that will occur in the future (e.g., a planned school shooting), a threatening circumstance that is occurring in real-time (e.g., having a gun in a backpack), or a traumatic experience that happened in the past (e.g., sexual assault or abuse at home). Depending on the topic, tense is vital for understanding urgency.