Should the State Examine, Store Social Media Posts of Children?

Some parents are pushing back against a key part of Gov. Greg Abbott's proposal to use the same algorhithms used by Homeland Security to scour social media to unmask terrorists to determine which students are likely to become violent in school, News Radio 1200 WOAI reprorts.

"It is known as the 'Twitter Program,' and it is currently being used at ten Independent School Districts," Abbott said.  "The program uses mental healthy screening to identify students at risk of commiting violence."

Abbott is proposing that the Legislature grant $20 million to help the program move statewide, and begin scouring all of the social media accounts of all Texas school students, to be able to isolate those at risk for violence.

It is one of the key proposals to come out of the governor's 'round tables' on school violence following the shooting at Santa Fe High School in May.

Abbott says so called 'Fusion Centers' across the state, which combines the operations of local police and Homeland Security to search for terrorists, would be expanded to apply that technology to school students.

"These Fusion Centers help to identify threats that appear on social media, and will help law enforcement to intervene before violence occurs."

But some parents are telling the Legislature that, despite the threat of school violence today, lumping students in with terrorists and examining the social media posts of children is not where our society needs to be.

"Fusion Centers engage in surveillance of a student's social media, and use a special algorhithm to collect a 'threat score' for our children," said Meg Backich, who has children in the Highland Park ISD. 

She says essentially opening dossiers on children is wrong.

"It is the role of the government to legislate character development, collect mental health data on students, and store personally identifyable information?" she asked.

A final decision on whether to create the 'Twitter Program' statewide will be made by the Legislature.

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