New technology could change how schools track warning signs on social media

New technology could change how schools track warning signs on social media (WKEF/WRGT)

MIAMI VALLEY, Ohio (WKEF/WRGT) - Following the deadly Florida school shooting, there are questions about warning signs and missed clues.

The FBI was tipped off twice about a person with the shooter’s name making threatening social media comments, including one on YouTube that said, “I’m going to be a professional school shooter.”

The FBI said they checked the tip, but were unable to trace where that commenter lived.

New technology could change that and some local schools are now tapping into it.

Mad River Local Schools will roll out Social Sentinel next year.

“It is an online threat monitoring system,” Superintendent Chad Wyen said.

Wyen said the technology scans local social media posts for key words like active shooter, hate and terrorism.

“Based on those terms and what's presented on social media, if there is what is considered a threat, they geocode it down to a specific location and push out a notification,” Wyen said.

School leaders take it from there, alerting police of any threats.

But not everyone has this technology. Ge’lawn Guyn says he's active on social media and has seen aggressive comments from others posted before.

“It's kind of hard to figure out what you really should do,” Guyn said.

If you see something, say something.

Authorities say report it to local police first, then the FBI.

Also, on Facebook, Twitter and other platforms you can easily report a post.

“I believe people's words control what they do, some things you got to take serious,” Guyn said.

But once it gets into police hands, Dr. Patrick Oliver from Cedarville University says it can be hard to make an arrest.

“They have to have reason to believe that a person has committed a crime, is committing a crime or about to commit a crime,” Oliver said.

But he says this shouldn't stop you from reporting threats, because it puts that person on police's radar.

Getting ahead of the problem is key. That's why superintendent Wyen is making the investment and believes others will follow suit.

“There are a lot of school districts that will be moving toward that,” Wyen said.

Social Sentinel will cost Mad River schools around 4600 dollars a year, that's roughly a dollar per student.

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