Trenton, OH — An entirely new level of the nanny police state has risen in America and it is evident in the latest case out Trenton, Ohio. A middle school student liked a photo on Instagram and subsequently received a 10-day suspension for it.
Seventh grader Zachary Bowlin was not in class at Edgewood Middle School, nor was he even on campus when he scrolled down Instagram and like a photo someone posted. The photo was of a toy airsoft gun with the caption "Ready."
“I don’t think I did anything wrong,” Zachary said. “[The] next morning, they called me down and, like, patted me down and checked me for weapons. Then, they told me I was getting expelled or suspended or whatever.”
Zachary was then sent home with a letter to his parent noting the official cause of suspension: “liking a post on social media that indicated potential school violence.”
After suspending Zachary, the school then put then entire student body on alert over this child pressing the 'like' button.
“Yesterday evening school officials were made aware to an alleged threat of a student bringing a gun to school. We act on any potential threat to student safety swiftly and with the utmost importance. This morning, the alleged threat was addressed and we can assure you that all students at Edgewood Middle School are safe and school will continue as normal. Thank you”
“I was livid,” said Zachary’s father Martin Bowlin. “He never shared, he never commented, never made a threatening post … [he] just liked it.”
Last week the superintendent of Edgewood City School, Russ Fussnecker released a statement to FOX 19, which stated:
“Concerning the recent social media posting of a gun with the caption “Ready”, and the liking of this post by another student, the policy at Edgewood City Schools reads as follows:
The Board has a “zero tolerance” of violent, disruptive, harassing, intimidating, bullying, or any other inappropriate behavior by its students.
Furthermore, the policy states:
Students are also subject to discipline as outlined in the Student Code of Conduct that occurs off school property when the misbehavior adversely affects the educational process.
As the Superintendent of the Edgewood City Schools, I assure you that any social media threat will be taken serious including those who “like” the post when it potentially endangers the health and safety of students or adversely affects the educational process.”
After Zachary's parents appealed the case, luckily, the school responded by lifting the remaining suspension — but not before their son was cast as some violent threat for his choice of Instagram likes.
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The local media reports failed to address the giant pink elephant in the room while covering Zachary's suspension. The fact that the school is monitoring its students' social media accounts closely enough that it noticed a single like on a random photo of a toy gun is ominous — to say the least.
Over the past few years, school districts across the country have implemented policies that spy on their students using various Instagram, Facebook, and other social media scraper/aggregator tools.
The very same software and techniques used by the behemoth spy state inside the US to amass vast troves of surveillance data about citizens are being employed on children in school.
Data is scooped up in massive swoops in an automated process regardless of its nature — good, bad, or indifferent. This data is then used to build profiles on each student and very few regulations are in place for how this data is used, who can access it, or what conclusions are being drawn from it.
Naturally, this police state system of spying on children is touted as a means of keeping your children safe. The software companies like SnapTrends, who sell their software to law enforcement and school districts for spying purposes, prey on the parents' fear to get them to accept it.
However, making sure your children aren't plotting mass shootings on social media or attempting suicide are jobs for parents — not creepy school administrators scrolling through troves of images of children posted to social media.
While the pretext of safety is used for people to accept it today, the implications for students accepting the fact they are being spied on are chilling. How much longer until these same techniques are used to quash political dissent or chastise students who question the status quo.
The police state has always been incremental which is why it's so easily accepted. Make no mistake, this is how 1984 becomes reality. These programs will most assuredly follow students into their adult lives and they will accept them without question, just as they have been conditioned to in school.
First, they came for the Instagram likes.