How College Campuses Use AI To Monitor Student Protests

How do campuses protect and save the lives of students at risk of harming themselves or others? Software that uses artificial intelligence to scan students’ social media activities has been touted as the best way.

Pulitzer Center AI Accountability Fellow Ari Sen revealed a lesser-known use of an AI tool known as Social Sentinel: surveilling campus protests.

In a groundbreaking investigation for The Dallas Morning NewsSen discovered that campus police used Social Sentinel to track protests over a Confederate statue, student criticism of school officials over an alleged mishandling of a rape complaint, and even protests against a visiting US senator at a town hall.

The reporting discovered that the company actively marketed the tool to university officials as an inexpensive solution to “mitigate” and “forestall” student protests while publicly maintaining that the service was not a surveillance tool.

We Wednesday, October 5, at 2:00pm EDTjoin the Pulitzer Center (@pulitzercenter) and The Dallas Morning News (@dallasnews) for a Twitter Spaces conversation with Sen and Pulitzer Center Senior Editor Boyoung Lim as they discuss the implications of this reporting, how colleges and students across the country are reacting, and the path forward. Visit this link to set a reminder to join on Twitter.


Arijit (Ari) D.Sen is a computational journalist on the investigative team at The Dallas Morning News. He recently graduated from the University of California, Berkeley, with a master’s in journalism and a graduate certificate in applied data science. Sen also holds a bachelor’s in journalism from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Hussman School of Journalism and Media.

Before coming to The Dallas Morning News, he worked as an intern and freelance contributor for NBC News. His reporting has focused on the intersection of politics and technology. Sen will be using the AI ​​Accountability Fellowship to develop his reporting on a social media monitoring company that is used on college campuses across the US

Boyoung Lim is a senior editor at the Pulitzer Center. She formerly worked as a reporter at the Korea Center for Investigative Journalism (KCIJ)—Newstapa. She is a member of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ).

Before becoming a journalist, she worked as a police officer with a focus on cybercrime. She graduated from Korean National Police University, majoring in criminal investigation. She holds a master’s degree in international studies from Seoul National University.

Since starting her journalism career in her native South Korea, she has covered human rights violations, illicit financial flows, tax injustice, the medical device industry, and others. An international investigation of pseudo-scientific publications led by Norddeutscher Rundfunk (NDR), in which she took part, won several domestic journalism awards.

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