Williamson Co. school officials issue warning about Twitter - WECT TV6-WECT.com:News, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

Williamson Co. school officials issue warning about Twitter


An unfortunate national trend has a Midstate school district on high alert.

Williamson County school officials warned parents about some disturbing Twitter accounts in a recorded phone call Wednesday night.

According to parents, in the call, Communications Director Carol Birdsong talked about a national trend on Twitter where users share gossip or confess things they've allegedly done.

Parents say Birdsong said many of these Twitter accounts have been created in recent days. Some of them have been taken down, others have not.

Birdsong says the content of the tweets is disturbing and inappropriate for minors.

The district asked parents to speak with their children and listed these Twitter handles as accounts to watch out for: @GossipWilco, @Wilcoblackouts and @Wcsconfessions.

The tweets originating from those Twitter handles and the tweets sent to them are graphic.

"We are going to draw a line in the sand and say, 'This is not acceptable behavior for Williamson County Schools,'" said Williamson County Superintendent Dr. Mike Looney.

In a tweet Wednesday afternoon, Looney said, "WCS troubled by content on some twitter accounts. I will be working with parents, principals, police and others to take action. No Excuses!"

Looney says it's an issue that's been going on for a while on social media sites like Twitter, but it has gotten worse in the last few days.

"What's happening is students are creating anonymous accounts, making statements. And it is just like Twitter or anywhere else, people start following these accounts and then you have people being identified and student names and teachers names are being called out," Looney said.

And it goes beyond cyberbullying. Some of the tweets detail explicit group sex and violence amongst the teens. What got school leaders' attention more recently is students' posts about alleged rapes and drugs use on Twitter.

"The stuff they put on their shocked me," said parent Rani Figureroa.

According to parents, the call said that activities that disrupt school learning are subject to school discipline and that includes Twitter.

"Students do have a First Amendment right, but when it impacts the ability for students to come to school and feel safe and learn, that crosses the line for us," Looney said.

On the Channel 4 Facebook page, Debbie Davenport praised Williamson County Schools for addressing these issues.

"My son is a senior and I have always appreciated how Williamson County Schools partner with parents for the overall best interest of their students."

The school system says if the inappropriate tweets are sent during the school day, they will take disciplinary action.

"Up to and including suspension or expulsion from school. We have students that have been remanded to the ALC - the alternative learning center - because of their inappropriate use of social media at school," Looney said.

They have already asked the Franklin Police Department to review some of the concerning tweets. The police department says it didn't find any evidence of crimes but it does support the schools' efforts.

The school district plans to host a series of public meetings in which leaders will make sure parents know how to use Twitter and how to monitor their children's accounts.

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