The Federal Reserve Bank of New York is sensitive about its public perception — so sensitive, in fact, that it is undertaking what many may call extreme measures. According to the Los Angeles Times, the New York Fed is attempting to monitor what's being said about it in social media.
New York Fed officials are not taking the approach of normal social media users, who generally expand their networks through friend requests. The Fed is essentially aiming to collect real-time information regarding all mentions of it posted on the Internet.
According to CNBC, the New York Fed is soliciting proposals from developers for a "Social Listening Platform."
In addition to continuously monitoring conversations on sites such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and even in forums, CNBC says the Fed wants its new software to "be able to aggregate data from various media outlets such as: CNN, WSJ, Factiva etc."
As if this collection of this data isn't bizarre enough, the Fed also wants the software to include a feature allowing sentiment analysis.
In other words, the Fed wants anything said about it on a social platform to be categorized as positive, negative, or neutral, explains CNBC
Regarding the motives, a Fed spokesperson is quoted in the Los Angeles Times as saying that the New York Fed is interested in getting a better sense of the relevant concerns and discussions that are taking place in the public domain.
The statement also said the New York Fed is committed to improving its communications and engagement with the public in order to enhance and improve the public's understanding of its activities and the role it plays in supporting the U.S. economy.
But there is no mention as to how the Fed plans to accomplish its goal of communicating better.
For many, the Fed's reasoning is neither sufficient nor comforting.
Questions remain about why the Fed would go these extremes to gauge public sentiment and what they really plan to do with the collected information.
The Los Angeles Times quoted the Economic Collapse blog's take: It is unclear how they plan to use this information once they have it, but considering how many alternative media sources have been shut down lately, this is obviously a very troubling sign.
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