AP NEWS

Partnership tracks social media for Florence One Schools

February 16, 2019

FLORENCE, S.C. – Florence One Schools has partnered with the Social Media Listening Center at the Southeastern Institute of Manufacturing Technology Center at Florence-Darlington Technical College to monitor what is being said on social media about Florence One Schools.

The partnership began as a way for the district to increase school safety and monitor potential threats from social media, according to Florence One director of technology Kyle Jones.

West Florence High School is the first school to be a part of the partnership, and after a successful startup, the partnership is expected to expand to other schools in the district.

Currently, the district and the listening center are working out the details of how to properly track social media mentions.

Through the partnership, the social media listening center will monitor public social media posts, checking for how people are talking about West Florence High. They will be able to track what people discuss most, discover how positively or negatively people talk about the school and identify potential threats to the school.

The Social Media Listening Center is able to record social media postings from approximately 600,000,000 websites, including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Reddit and Tumbler, according to Social Media Listening Center manager Duane Childers.

“We are focusing on monitoring for customer service, also for threat monitoring,” Childers said. “We can look at keywords, and then we can look for usage of violent language or threatening language, and we can pick up on that. What we are doing with Florence School District One is primarily customer service, but it is threat monitoring in addition to traditional security measures.”

In addition to scanning social media posts, the information is keyword and location searchable, Childers said. He also said the software can compile information each week.

“So much information is generated all the time that you just can’t have enough eyeballs on it,” Childers said. “So, if we can automate a portion of it and find those couple of needles in the haystacks, and help them out and give them some leads with good information, that helps their students and keeps them safe.”

Jones said the district began investigating the use of the Social Media Listening Center at the SiMT Center before Christmas.

“This is the ecosystem our parents and students live in now, and because there is so much, you have to have AI or machine learning or algorithms to help filter through the noise,” Jones said.

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