Meramec student sends threatening tweet

Posted on 04 September 2013 by admin

Meramec monitors tweets of students, removes student from all STLCC campuses

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By: SPENCER GLEASON

Editor-in-Chief

An STLCC-Meramec student was released from Meramec Police officials after turning herself in at the Kirkwood Police Department, on Aug. 28, following a tweet that she sent out that was directed toward the Meramec Financial Aid Department.

The student was never in custody of the Kirkwood Police Department. She was always in the custody of the Meramec Police officers at the Kirkwood facility.

Sometime prior to 9:26 a.m. last Wednesday morning the student’s tweet was sent out to the public. The student sent out the tweet expressing her displeasure with the Financial Aid Department saying, “If this Financial Aid doesn’t figure it out soon, I’m [going to] kill somebody.”

STLCC-Meramec officials described the tweet as “threatening” in a press release to students, staff and faculty.

“There are a lot of things that we say spontaneously that we would never publish because it’s our emotion that we are expressing,” Director of Community Relations Toni Oplt said. “But once it’s posted, it takes on a different connotation for people.”

According Meramec Interim President Pam McIntyre the STLCC keeps track of the social media world and what students are saying about STLCC.

“The college monitors tweets for certain words that come in,” McIntyre said. “It doesn’t do it in terms of threatening kinds of tweets, but it does it in terms of a realization of what are people saying about the college and what type of information is out there. That type of thing.”

Chuck McPherson, Meramec Communications Specialist, received an email from the Director of Web Communications George Sackett. Sackett, who monitors incoming tweets for all of STLCC from the Cosand Center, notified McPherson of the situation.

“First he called me and said, ‘Did you see my email?’ I said, ‘No, not yet,’” McPherson said. “While we were on the phone, the email came through and that’s when I notified [Oplt]. She notified President McIntyre and the ball rolled from there.”

McPherson who is a second set of eyes for incoming tweets about Meramec, searches for ‘Meramec’ both with and without the hashtag in Twitter’s search box.

“You can look up the ‘Most Popular’ and you can also go under ‘All Tweets,’” McPherson said. “It’s very simple, at least the way I do it. But George [Sackett] is the main person that monitors everything. That’s part of his actual job.”

STLCC is not the only local community college dealing with the world or twitter threats. St. Charles Community College (SCC) also caught a student making “terroristic twitter threats.” An employee of SCC who monitors tweets noticed the tweet and notified the proper authorities.

“I think people are not quite as aware of how public social media is and how easily it is to see things on people’s Facebook page,” Oplt said. “You get into this relaxed mode of having conversations with your friends, but in reality there are all kinds of ways of how that information travels out there. I think we forget about that.”

Following the twitter threat at Meramec, Interim President McIntyre took the time to remind her family that social media is public.

“I went home that night and emailed my two nieces and nephews and said, ‘If you haven’t really thought about social media as being public, you might want to do that because a young person’s life on the Meramec campus, life has now taken a different turn,’” McIntyre said. “’So you might want to think about what you put up there.’”

With the world of social media at the fingertips of the world, McIntyre advises that face to face discussions are always the better route to take.

“Social media happens all the time and it’s instantaneous. It just kind of becomes more of a conversation,” McIntyre said. “Instead of having conversations face to face, people are doing the texting thing or tweeting thing. The difference between a face to face conversation and texting conversation is that it’s face to face. It isn’t this big, broad piece that’s out there.”

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