Did Kennesaw Mountain High School, GA Overreact To Twitter Tweets?

Current date and time 2014-07-29 19:32:09
-- Posted on Dec 1 2012 - 12:28:15 am by Zennie Abraham

Kennesaw Mountain High School in Kennesaw, GA was the focus of a Twitter-based threat that caused the school to be on a security alert Thursday and Friday. But a look at the situation by Zennie62.com didn’t reveal one smoking gun Twitter-tweet, but did find a lot of tweets referring to the possible occurrence of a shooting Friday night, and in connection with a school sports game.

School officials placed this note on the Kennesaw Mountain High School website:

We are aware of the statements on Twitter regarding a possible situation on our campus today. We have taken these statements very seriously and are working with law enforcement authorities to take all precautions necessary to try to ensure the safety of all students. Administrators, campus officers, and Kennesaw Police Department officers will be around our campus and in the hallways all day today. When we heard rumors yesterday that some students might be involved in the situation mentioned on Twitter, we addressed the students and their parents then to try to prevent anything from happening. We have asked our staff to remain vigilant today and let us know immediately if they hear of any possible situations involving the statements made on Twitter last night.

And then there’s this letter to parents:

LETTER TO PARENTS

November 30, 2012

We want to update you concerning the events of today and to let you know of the steps that we have taken. Except for the police presence and the number of students who are absent or who are checking out early today, we have had nothing out of the ordinary to occur on our campus despite the messages posted on Twitter last night. When first informed of possible trouble, our administrative team and campus officer worked with the CCSD Public Safety Department and the Kennesaw Police Department to investigate the matter and to identify any students who might be involved. As students who were making threatening statements were identified, we have disciplined them according to district policy. We have also had a number of police officers on our campus today to help patrol the area to make sure that all students were safe.

Notifying our staff of potential problems and our parents of this situation was a top priority. We posted a statement on our website this morning as soon as we had reliable information to share, and we sent a phone message to all students’ families and made an announcement to the students who are here on campus. As many parents came to KMHS to check out their students, our attendance office recruited extra help to process the numerous early dismissals as quickly as possible. In an effort to keep you informed, we are posting this message.

We will continue to keep you informed if the situation changes. Please be aware that at this time no incidents have occurred on our campus today and that we will continue to pursue any students involved in making threatening statements. Students involved in making such statements or in fighting will be disciplined appropriately.

Thank you for your continued support of Kennesaw Mountain.

Kevin Daniel

But in looking for the smoking gun tweet, it didn’t turn up, unless it was removed, and that wasn’t made clear by anyone. What is clear is the tweets talking about a shooting or fight, also point to a rivalry between Kennesaw Mountain High and Harrison High, both in Kennesaw, Georgia. Many tweets also refer to a basketball game that was to have been played Thursday, but the official boys basketball season doesn’t start until December 7th, and the only b-ball game set for this week involved the girls and not against Harrison. Weird.

Here are the tweets that first referenced first that there was some kind of problem, then second, that a shooting might take place:

Other tweets refer to the girl’s b-ball game, and the wrestling match against Harrison, which Kennesaw won – those Twitter tweets were on November 28th. But there were others…

So the rivalry’s on! KMHS beat HHS in one sport this week, already. So reading the tweets, there were some who thought that others from HHS were going to come to KMHS and start some kind of fight involving guns. There’s no one tweet that says that, but the total search of tweets under “KMHS” reveals that. What’s clear is that there was a greater police presence as of Thursday – but no smoking gun tweet.

This was the oldest tweet to refer to a “KMHS shooting:”

And that was 21 hours ago.

But there were a lot of tweets pointing to the idea that something was going to happen, like this one:

And that underscores the point: there were over 100 tweets over the past four days pointing to the idea that something was going to happen at Kennesaw High, even though there was no one Twitter tweet.

I don’t know who KMHS disciplined “internally” but it’s a fair bet that’s a cover for the fact that there was no real threat to start with.

But the overall lesson here is in how powerful social media can be in fueling fears to a point where law enforcement steps in to counter the possible situation.

What’s clear from the stories is that KMHS officials responded to rumors on and off Twitter, circulated around the school and involving students they say they have now detained; Twitter helped to fuel the news that “something was going down” but it wasn’t the source of a specific tweet that said that “something was going down.” I also wonder if they got the right students responsible…

Stay tuned.

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About the Author

Zennie Abraham is the founder of Zennie62Media which consists of http://www.zennie62blog.com and a multimedia blog news aggregator and video network, and 78-blog network, with social media and content development services and consulting. Zennie is a pioneer video blogger, YouTube Partner, social media practitioner, game developer, and pundit. Note: news aggregator content does not reflect the personal views of Mr. Abraham. Visit http://www.youtube.com/user/zennie62 and http://www.tout.com/u/zennie62 - follow on Twitter @zennie62