To the editor:
I read with interest Monday’s (Feb. 3) editorial in the Daily Tar Heel, 'Editorial: Party like it’s ‘1984,’ which inaccurately characterizes both the facts when it comes to our use of Social Sentinel software and my response to questions on the resource, which I provided at last week’s important and informative Summit on Safety and Belonging.
Allow me to stress again that the University uses Social Sentinel software to identify threatening or concerning public social media posts surrounding events that require campus public safety. The resource is an industry best practice. It only uses public information that is provided by the user and does not collect private personal information.
As I stated last week, geo-fencing is a term that refers to the search for dangerous words, phrases or violent intent expressed over a public social media platform within an established geographic perimeter. Law enforcement is looking for threatening language; we’re not looking for names, nor are we “following” people based on their use of social media. If those words are used within a geofence, then law enforcement is alerted to be better prepared, to take stricter precautions and only then to investigate further to rule out viable threats through lawful protocols.
Again, if there is potentially incendiary, suspicious language or concerning images being communicated, law enforcement is notified of that threat — we are not notified of names, nor dates of birth, nor specific identification.