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Social Media Tool Monitors for Potential Problems

A technology company in Halifax is testing software that analyzes social media commentary to identify potential risks worth alerting law enforcement and schools about. Social Navigator is running a beta trial of LifeRaft with university and law enforcement users in the United States and Canada, including the University of Southern California and Saint Mary's University in Halifax.

LifeRaft crawls the major social media sites, including twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and others. Based on a combination of keywords, terms and specific URLs, as well as sentiment and geofencing, the company said, the software will report on conversations "of interest" and provide precise location of individual posts. The service sends automated alerts to mobile devices of authorized users and lets them drill into conversations, relationships and history to gain a contextual understanding of an individual's online comments.

LifeRaft will allow the user to identify persons of interest, follow them closely, and then flag any conversations and sentiments that enter into areas of concern. For example, in schools it might identify a discussion involving cyberbullying or bringing a weapon to school. The data is used to create profiles that pose possible risks in a given location.

"Development of LifeRaft began in 2013 as we saw the need for this type of intelligent monitoring tool continue to grow with the dominance of social media and the opportunity to assist in perhaps preventing some of the tragic situations we are witnessing," said Brian Perry, co-founder of the company.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning. She can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @schaffhauser.

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