Blake Dowling: Disturbing New Tech Trend — Social Media & School Violence – Florida Politics

This, well, this is just too much.

Today, a Ft. Myers TV station interviewed me on threats of school violence on social media platforms. I touched on the same topic last week on a Tallahassee TV station.

Of all the interesting things in technology — as well as the devious (see Log4J exploit, which we will try and tackle that next week, contact your IT professional for advice) — it is shocking to see the threat of violence in schools is trending.

People, especially young people, have always pushed the boundaries of bad behavior, but because of the feelings of anonymity on social platforms, this behavior has now reached epic proportions.

It has gotten so bad that, as of Dec. 17, there is a TikTok trend/challenge suggesting there will be violence across the nation at our schools.

Sick, right?

Most likely, it’s a bunch of kids trying to get out of school; but how can law enforcement, educators, and parents not take it seriously?

In Florida, schools are posting warnings, like this one in Citrus County as they monitor the situation with law enforcement. In Central Florida, seven threats and acts of violence have been reported in just the past 11 days.

Schools handle each situation differently from closings to increased police presence and it is daunting.

This is not the first time a social media challenge has been a huge problem.

Earlier this year, there was the “slap a teacher” challenge that made the news, as well as the “devious licks” challenge. Both caused problems for all involved, taking up countless time and resulting in damages around the state.

Broward County Schools made a public statement at that time:

“Broward County Public Schools is aware of virtual, monthly challenges being circulated on the social media platform TikTok. The most recent challenge encourages students to commit a violent act by slapping a teacher or school staff member. Previous challenges have promoted destroying school property and stealing. District and school leadership continue to inform families about these dangerous challenges and remind them that students will face school discipline and law enforcement consequences if they participate. Ensuring safe and secure learning environments for our students, teachers and staff remain our highest priorities.”

I write about technology and the bad behavior that goes along with it: Revenge porn, hacking, fraud, you name it.

This, well, this is just too much.

Attacking teachers, threatening gun violence on fellow students? The platforms themselves need to wake up and ban accounts immediately that threaten violence and stop this bad behavior at the core, if Twitter can take down the President of the United States’ account, it is reasonable to think that TikTok could do more in regard to these threats.

One student was caught this week and arrested Wednesday for threatening to kill students at Pompano Beach school.

I sincerely hope that the Dec. 17 trend/challenge is just noise and those who started it get caught and impressionable and disturbed youth in our nation don’t buy into it.

If you see something call your local police department and make sure to check out the app from the Department of Education called FortifyFlorida that can also be used to report suspicious activity.

Prayers for everyone as we enter the week of Christmas and be safe out there.

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Blake Dowling is the CEO of Aegis Business Technologies and can be reached at [email protected].

For a last-minute gift idea, you can pick up his book: “Professionally Distanced: All Access Stories from a Florida Business During the 2020 Pandemic.”

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