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How the iWatch App Turns Students Into State-Sanctioned Social Media Police

By William Vogeler, Esq. on June 19, 2018 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

After school shootings left dozens dead this year, authorities began searching for new ways to prevent another campus tragedy.

They found one, ironically in the same place the mass-murderers first lashed out: on social media. Lawmakers are focused now on how students can use their social media to police suspicious activities.

In an age when the internet is virtually everywhere, it was bound to happen. But in 1984, nobody thought Big Brother would be a high school student.

School Shootings

In Texas, they call it iWatch -- an app that allows students to report classmates who are "slightly suspicious," "moderately suspicious," or "highly suspicious." With a few taps, their tips are sent to state authorities for tracking and response.

The app can be used to take photos of social media posts, images, or real-time activities. With location services enabled, they can help identify precise locations of potential problems.

It's not easy to predict the future, but the app could have helped in the Texas and Florida shootings. In the Santa Fe case, for example, the shooter posted two firearms-related Instagram photos. In the Parkland case, the shooter posted: "I wanna shoot people with my AR-15."

According to reports, states across the country are embracing smartphone technology to prevent mass shootings. Texas and Florida are unrolling apps, while a non-profit created "Say Something" after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Connecticut.

Bullying, Sexual Harassment

With smartphones and social media, students today live in a virtual world. With that comes problems in the real world.

Studies say that about 34 percent of children have been bullied online or through smart devices. Sexual harassment, like revenge porn, is just as destructive.

Fortunately, these days there also might be an app for that.

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