Federal Reserve wants to read your Facebook posts

Complaints on Twitter or Facebook about jobs or rising food prices may become fodder for the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s assessments of the world’s current economic conditions.

The bank has issued a request for proposals seeking a contractor to help gauge the nation’s economic mood by sampling conversations on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and blogs.

The bank said it wants a Sentiment Analysis and Social Media Monitoring Solution to gather and report data from around the world, in multiple languages, on a continuous basis.

The proposal calls for “Social Media Listening Platforms” to be created to “monitor billions of conversations” and generate text analytics.

Although the bank is billing the project as run-of-the-mill situational awareness, some bloggers are warning of Big Brother concerns.

“The Fed has just entered the counterespionage era and will be monitoring everything written about it anywhere in the world,” Tyler Durden, blogger for ZeroHedge.com, wrote in a blog entry breaking the news of the bank’s plans on Sept. 25.

A bank spokesman further described the plans in an article in the Los Angeles Times.

Bank officials state in the RFP that they want to stay current on public opinion, and social media monitoring provides a means to do that.

“Social media platforms are changing the way organizations are communicating to the public,” the request states. “Conversations are happening all the time and everywhere. There is need for the Communications Group to be timely and proactively aware of the reactions and opinions expressed by the general public as it relates to the Federal Reserve and its actions on a variety of subjects.”

The platforms to be developed also may “determine the sentiment of a speaker or writer with respect to some topic or document,” the RFP states. “The information gathered can guide the organization's public relations group in assessing the effectiveness of communication strategies.”

The solution will be used to help the Federal Reserve track the impact of messages and press releases, handle crisis situations, identify and reach key bloggers and opinion influencers, and spot emerging trends.

The platform also must be to analyze and provide overviews of public opinion on certain topics and include a dashboard that can be customized.





About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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