UCLA administration monitoring students’ social media accounts through private service

UC Los Angeles and several other higher institutions were found to be using a private service to monitor students’ social media activity, according to a recent report from The Dallas Morning News.

The service, previously named Social Sentinel and now called Detect, allows schools to monitor students’ public social media accounts for potential threats to campus safety. UCLA is one of at least 37 institutions using the service.

In a statement to the Daily Bruin, UCLA spokesperson Bill Kisliuk said specialized teams are only notified if there are keywords in posts from public, UCLA-affiliated accounts that could indicate risk of student harm or self-harm. Content is flagged based on Detect’s library of more than 500,000 keywords or phrases.

UCLA has not publicly posted any information regarding its contract with Detect. An email obtained by The Dallas Morning News suggested that UC Davis may be utilizing the service as well.

The Dallas Morning News found that Detect promoted its service to university administrators as a tool to moderate and intercept student protests, though Kisliuk maintained that UCLA has not utilized the service in that way.

“There have been instances where monitoring using Social Sentinel [Detect] resulted in UCLA’s Consultation & Response Team or Behavioral Intervention Team engaging with members of the UCLA community whose posts indicated they posed a risk of harm to themselves or others,” he said in the statement. “The university has then reached out to those individuals to provide resources and support.”

The university’s contract with Detect expires in June 2023, according to Kisliuk, and a determination of its possible renewal will be made following a review of the service.

The report made no mention of UC Santa Barbara or any other UC campus utilizing the service. UCSB Public Relations Manager Kiki Reyes did not immediately respond to a request for a comment regarding whether or not UCSB implements a similar service. 

Endowed professorship established at UC Santa Cruz’s Center for South Asian Studies 

UC Santa Cruz’s Center for South Asian Studies established the Anuradha Luther Maitra and Thomas Kailath Endowed Professorship in South Asian Studies, which will be held by a new director of the center, according to the UCSC newsroom.

The professorship comes from funding provided by former UCSC professor Anuradha Luther Maitra and her husband Thomas Kailath.

“South Asia, because of its size, as well as aspirations and potential for growth, must be seen as linked to the future of our planet,” Maitra said to the UCSC newsroom. “We are hopeful that this gift will spark global interest in UC Santa Cruz’s Center for South Asian Studies and will serve as an inflection point for the center’s trajectory.”

First Lady Jill Biden visits UCSF to discuss breast cancer research

First Lady Jill Biden visited UC San Francisco on Oct. 7 to discuss breast cancer research at the institution and progress on the National Cancer Moonshot — a plan to develop new, more efficient cancer therapies and cut the cancer death rate in half over the next quarter century.

UCSF Breast Care Center Director Laura Esserman joined Biden to discuss two national clinical studies she’s leading — the I-SPY2 Trial and the WISDOM Study — to aim to provide a better understanding of breast cancer, according to the UCSF newsroom.

We want care tomorrow to be better than what it is today,’’ Esserman said. “We don’t think it is one size fits all. We want to screen smarter: less for those who don’t need it and more for those who do. Every woman from every community deserves a chance to participate.”

Biden noted the importance of engaging diverse populations in clinical trials while acknowledging the difficulty of joining a clinical trial in the midst of cancer treatment.

“It takes a lot of courage,” Biden said. “It is so stressful.”

Biden also spoke with breast cancer researchers and students about their work, concluding her visit with the remark, “I love what you’re doing here – you have great hearts.” 

A version of this article appeared on p. 2 of the Oct. 13, 2022 print edition of the Daily Nexus.


Sindhu Ananthavel
Sindhu Ananthavel (she/they) is the Lead News Editor for the 2023-24 school year. Previously, Ananthavel was the Deputy News Editor for the 2022-23 school year, the Community Outreach News Editor for the 2021-22 school year and an assistant news editor for the 2021-22 school year. She can be reached at news@dailynexus.com.