Speed Reads

surveillance nation

Alabama schools stalk students on Facebook, supposedly at the NSA's bidding

The Huntsville, Alabama, school system has been secretly monitoring students' activity on Facebook and other social media sites after ostensibly receiving a call from the NSA a year and a half ago.

The schools are searching for evidence of gun ownership, gang activity, suicidal tendencies, and threats of violence so they can take disciplinary action against students before they have turned online bravado into real crime. So far, at least three students have been expelled and one has been sent to counseling based on Facebook photos showing them holding handguns.

The NSA denies contacting the school or suggesting the monitoring program. Meanwhile, other school systems in places like Glendale, California, Jackson, North Carolina, and more, are also secretly keeping tabs on students online. Public reaction to these programs has been largely negative, and civil liberties advocates are concerned, too. "[T]his program is sweeping and far afield of what is necessary to ensure student safety and intrudes deeply into students' privacy and conduct outside of school," said attorney Brendan Hamme of the ACLU.