Why we do what we do.
Safety is a human right, and our need to be connected is a human drive. The explosive proliferation of social media finds some users posting their harmful intentions—publicly—towards the people and places where we learn, work and play. Our service provides clients with insights into those public threats to help maintain the safety of their communities. We do this with a commitment to protect our collective (and constitutional) rights to: privacy, freedom of association, and freedom of speech; a commitment found in the DNA of the design and delivery of our service.
In the early days of social media, former University of Vermont Chief of Police, Dr. Gary Margolis, observed something interesting. During a morning shift briefing, the shift sergeant shared something that caught his attention; a safety concern sourced from social media.
Gary inquired about the source of this information and was directed to the midnight shift dispatcher. She introduced him to a network of bulletin boards and early websites of services and companies that would grow into what we know today as social media. Given the volume of information being shared so publicly even back then, he quickly understood there was a lot to be learned from these sources for the safety and security of the community.
How could we fulfill our responsibility to protect and serve the community without understanding what was being shared on this new medium?
What was the liability for NOT paying attention to this information?
How could our safety team separate the “wheat from the chaff” in searching for potential harm being telegraphed on these sites?
How could he ensure the team was respecting individual rights to privacy, freedom of speech and assembly?
He knew his community wanted protection, but he also knew that they didn’t want to be monitored.
Where was the middle ground?
A service that scanned social media for threats of harm could make the process more efficient and effective than manual processes, which are impossible to do well. After reviewing services used by the campus marketing, recruiting, and public affairs teams, Gary found two glaring roadblocks. First, those services allowed for overly broad searches. Second, they allowed for the ability to link and follow people. Each of these created problems alone, and together doubly so.
With all of this in mind, Gary founded Social Sentinel to be an automated, easy to use and powerful service respecting our privacy rights while looking for harm. He knocked on the doors of these early companies and built relationships that last to this very day.
The noble mission and the transparency behind the service attracted their confidence and support. The team at Social Sentinel began building a service that went a giant step beyond traditional marketing-based social media monitoring services. One that was purposely developed to meet the specific needs of safety and security teams while respecting our rights.
Four years later - with proven success in school districts, universities and colleges across the country - Social Sentinel’s industry-leading solution is being expanded to help protect communities outside of education. Wherever people gather, Social Sentinel provides an added layer of protection against threats shared publicly on social media.