We asked Matt Soeth to tell us a little bit about the new help line for schools he and Anne Collier have been working hard on and here is what we learned...
Why Was #iCANHELP created? #iCANHELP was started when students created a fake Facebook page about a teacher. After two weeks, a student turned in the perpetrator. The offending student was suspended, did take the content down and apologized for his actions. One year later, a different student created a fake Instagram page about the same teacher. In less than a day, multiple students were on Instagram speaking up in support of the teacher and reporting the page to Instagram. It was quickly taken down. In the three years since that incident happened, we have come across similar pages in multiple social media services designed to demean, put down, harass and bully students or staff at various schools throughout the country. Schools need help with social media, and that is what led #iCANHELP and Net Family News, Inc. to start iCanHelpline, the social media helpline for schools.
So what is it? Think of iCanHelpline.org as a social media “helpdesk” for schools. This is a free service
now being piloted for schools and districts in California that can be reached via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or the toll free number (855.997.0409). We can help resolve school-related problems such as cyberbullying, sexting, and reputation issues that turn up in social media, whether they involve students or staff.
We work closely with schools and industry to find the best way to report negative content that violates Terms of Service. Issues on social media occur fairly frequently in schools, and we know that schools are looking for help when it comes to resolving disruptive and hurtful “drama” around social media. Think of the helpline as the 411 and 911 of social media for schools. The 911 part means that if the content violates Terms of Service, the helpline can help get it taken down. The 411 part has to do with the perspective we can provide to schools’ incident response, either for support with social media or reporting abusive content.
How Does It Work? How we work is simple. You can reach us either by phone or email. Once we are contacted we collect some basic info: Which platform the content has been posted to (Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, etc)? When it was posted? Has it been reported through the service’s regular channels? This is how we’re able to provide context to social media companies when we’re seeking to get content removed that violates their Terms of Service.
Who Is Supporting You? To date, our supporters include Google, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Ask.fm, YouTube, Yahoo, Snapchat, & Class Dojo. Our helpline grows out of the 17 years of Internet safety work of Anne Collier, president of Net Family News and builds on #iCANHELP co-founder Matt Soeth’s 15 years’ experience working in education as a teacher and trainer. Because of its work with students and deep experience in California’s student leadership movement, #iCANHELP has been able to get more than 130 pages or accounts deleted which violate social media services’ terms of service. Our goal is to increase communication and trust around social media in schools so that it can become a tool for learning, social literacy and student leadership.
What we know from over a decade of research is that the primary problems in social media are social ones. School climate and culture has an online piece now, and iCanHelpline can help schools with that part. So if you work for a school in California, that number to call is: 855.997.0409. Or email the helpline at help[at]icanhelpline.org.
Matt Soeth taught Video Production (CTE) and Student Leadership at Kimball High School in Tracy, CA. Matt was very involved with CADA with leadership training and technology integration in schools. He is also an adjunct professor at the Teacher College of San Joaquin where he instructs teachers in technology and mobile applications. His laid back attitude and sense of humor comes through in all his work, including the videos he produces for the #iCANHELP campaign.