Social media: government sees and hears all

After the Immigration Department pressured a Sydney woman to remove a Facebook post, Noel Towell examines the extent of government monitoring of social media.

In an office in the Immigration Department’s Canberra headquarters in early 2011, a public servant was hunched in front of a computer monitor experimenting with something called Radian 6.

The bureaucrat was testing the capacity of the software to monitor Twitter comments about the politically-charged department.

Elsewhere in the building, the former bureaucrat believes, others were testing the ability of the software to keep tabs on other social media platforms, and to give the department’s bosses – and their political masters – a high-tech picture of who was saying what about them and their policies.

Immigration was initially excited by the software, which, by using the right key words, could compile lists, almost instantaneously, of people tweeting about certain issues: keywords such as “detention” “asylum” and “Malaysia solution”.

“It gave you a long list of people who had tweeted using any of those words,” the former bureaucrat told Fairfax.

“The program can also create a sort of concept map, showing you the users who were making the most comments.”

Another former departmental employee confirms the trials took place but has a different take on the official enthusiasm for Radian 6.

Managers were impressed with the power of the software, the employee says. But in the end even Immigration, with its large unit of spin doctors, didn’t have the manpower to trawl through the sheer volume of online “shite” generated and the program was not adopted for service.

Three years later, Radian is now commonly used in the commercial world to keep tabs on their “mentions” and the software is no longer the weapon of choice for the public service.

A program called BuzzNumbers is now used throughout Canberra’s government departments to routinely do what Immigration was dreaming of back in 2011; to monitor the online interests of millions of Australians.

Read more via Social media: government sees and hears all.


Do you finally now understand that there is NO PRIVACY on Facebook? Is the message finally getting through?

Surely the fact that some fat middle aged bald guy in his late 50’s is able to legally trawl through every thing that you do on Facebook etc is enough to at least make you think about quitting? But then if you don’t care about your account and information how do you feel about the fact that they can and DO monitor everything your 13 year old daughter does? What about your 18 year olds, what about your Wife or Husband?

Do you care that your Government monitors and demands that certain people remove certain posts and information?

If you do then take back your lives and Quit Facebook.

If you don’t, well that is exactly the way Facebook wants it.

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