Orange County schools pay firm $10,000 to monitor social media messages

ByTimothy Pulliam via WTVD logo
Thursday, June 28, 2018
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Orange County schools district hires firm to monitor social media posts

ORANGE COUNTY, NC (WTVD) -- Orange County Schools will use a new technology to scan social media posts in an effort to keep schools safe from a potential active shooter.

The service only monitors social media posts that are public not private.

Social Sentinel is the online security firm in charge of this effort.

The service scans, posts, and then alerts school district administrators if it discovers threatening messages.

Those messages are then reviewed by an administrator to determine the seriousness of the threat. If the threat seems credible then law enforcement will get involved.

The school district has created a list of keywords for Social Sentinel to monitor and to flag as inappropriate.

The district's effort comes after a number of school shootings across the country this year.

Most notably, on Valentine's Day at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida where 17 people were murdered.

Dr. Stephen Halkiotis, Board Chairman for Orange County Schools said the district felt obligated to hire Social Sentinel in the interest of keep children of parents and guardians safe from an active shooter.

"If they've posted out there on facebook or some other public domain that they're planning to do this. We have a moral and ethical responsibility to react to that and that's all we're doing," he said

The cost for the service is $10,000, which will come out of the districts safety and security budget.

Wake County Schools, the largest school district in the state, will not be using the service.

A spokesperson said social media monitoring is not part of the district's budget.

Durham Public Schools is in the early stages of reviewing options with vendors, according to Chip Sudderth, a school district spokesperson.