T&L Advisor Guest post — Phil Hintz, Director of Technology, Gurnee School District 56:
Last week the Federal Government announced that they are spending over $1 million dollars to create an online database to track "hate speech" and "misinformation" on Twitter. “Truthy,” which was affectionately named by Stephen Colbert, will synthesize and catalog the spreading of information using Twitter feeds, including political campaigns. This story has caused me to evaluate how we teach kids to discern or filter their verbiage when engaging in social media.
While seizing this teachable moment I believe that the follow-up question this logically leads us to is, “how do you/we confront hate speech when it is posed to us on social media?” While this conversation can quickly turn to sounding like encroachment onto the First Amendment free speech clause, I think these are valid conversations that we need to be having while raising the Information Generation. With the profusion of social pollution around the Internet, it's very easy for kids to get caught up in the hoopla of the moment and not stop and think about what consequences their choice of words can have not only on their online identity, but on their budding futures as well. Common Sense Media is a great tool for teachers and parents to engage their students with uses of proper netiquette. While the acronym T.H.I.N.K. posted in this graphic is an excellent reminder to us all, the question I like to ask myself is “Would I say this to this person’s face?” It’s too easy to get wrapped up in our feelings when engaging in social media. This is especially true when there is no one sitting across from us in these conversations. Now with “Truthy” around, how much closer are we to Orwell’s Thought-Police?