Category Archives: Occupy Wall Street

Federal Reserve Plans to Monitor Facebook, Twitter and Google

The Federal Reserve Plans To Monitor Facebook, Twitter, Google News


The New York Federal Reserve Bank is embarking on an ambitious social media monitoring project. Starting this December, the Fed will be monitoring Facebook, Twitter, and the broader web to gauge public response to economic policy. Civil libertarians and anti-big government activists are upset, but should they be?

As Occupy Wall Street gains stream, the New York Federal Reserve Bank wants to know–for better or worse–how they are perceived. And they’re going to monitor social media to figure it out.

A vendor proposal request (or RFP) from the Fed, which describes a “Sentiment Analysis and Social Media Monitoring Solution,” surfaced on Scribd on September 25, and was quickly featured on gonzo finance blog Zero Hedge.

According to the document, the Fed is now evaluating bids for a social media analysis system that will mine data from Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, blogs, and web forums–beginning in December. In order to “handle crisis situations” and “track reach and spread of […] messages and press releases,” the project will also identify a number of what they call “key bloggers and influencers” to target with their outreach, and presumably monitoring, efforts.

A Federal Reserve Bank of New York spokesperson, Jack Gutt, told Fast Company:

“This is a new effort for the New York Fed that is under consideration at this time and I am therefore not able to provide any details. The reason for contemplating such an effort is to get a better sense of the relevant concerns and discussions that are taking place in the public domain in order to improve our communications and engagement with the public.”

Unfortunately for the Federal Reserve, they are facing a hostile climate in terms of public relations right now. Sluggish economic recovery efforts have increased public resentment of both the government and major investment houses. Big banks such as Bank of America drew ire for a decision to raise debit card fees, broadly. Meanwhile, the Occupy Wall Street movement–a kind of left-wing counterpoint to the Tea Party–is gaining large numbers of sympathizers with vociferous, if sometimes incoherent, anti-big business messages.

The Fed’s social media monitoring project appears to be large-scale. It shows the institution’s interest in much more than just the thoughts of a few financial bloggers and economists. In their RFP, they have requested that vendors offer a monitoring system that can handle international traffic and social media content in multiple languages–in other words, the Fed wants to monitor social media worldwide.

Apart from social media sources, the Federal Reserve also specifically named the Associated Press, CNN, Wall Street Journal, and Google News’ stable of aggregated content for in-depth content analysis. The Fed appears, judging from the bid proposal, to be especially interested in finding out if “there is an ongoing trend of negative sentiment in the financial industry” and in tracking public sentiment for specific keywords and companies or organizations.

While Zero Hedge writers justified Orwellian concerns about a quasi-governmental institution monitoring social media to gauge and influence citizen perception of the economy, similar projects have been going on for a long time.

High-level web and social media analytics are a staggering growth industry; private companies such as Google, Apple, and Procter & Gamble have monitoring schemes that would make any government agency green with jealousy. Fast Company recently reported on predictive analysis companies–who offer their high-level clients the ability to predict what customers want to see on company homepages–and on creepy/cool real-time analysis of customers’ habits at firms like eBay and Adobe. The Fed’s decision to monitor social media sentiment is, however you want to look at it, a natural extension of what’s happening in the private sector.

As the Fed goes, so does government in general. Social media monitoring has become a hot topic for government agencies and political candidates. With the 2012 election heating up, nearly all major political candidates have created impressive social media monitoring systems. Firms such as eCairn are promoting social media analysis solutions for the election and the Republican Party is focusing on social media in a big way. While the Federal Reserve’s plan to monitor social media might be considered creepy, it’s also the future.

Occupy Wall Street and Occupy the Fed Are Two Sides of the Same Coin

Occupy Wall Street and Occupy the Fed Are Two Sides of the Same Coin

By Washington’s Blog
Global Research, October 10, 2011

The Occupy Wall Street protests are obviously targeting Wall Street, i.e. the giant banks.

The Occupy the Fed protests – led by Alex Jones, the Oathkeepers and other conservatives – are targeting the Federal Reserve.

While some are trying to weaken these two movements through a divide-and-conquer strategy, the truth is that they are two sides of the same coin.

Specifically, the corrupt, giant banks would never have gotten so big and powerful on their own. In a free market, the leaner banks with sounder business models would be growing, while the giants who made reckless speculative gambles would have gone bust. See thisthis and this.

It is the Federal Reserve, Treasury and Congress who have repeatedly bailed out the big banksensured they make money at taxpayer expenseexempted them from standard accounting practices and thecriminal and fraud laws which govern the little guyencouraged insane amounts of leverage, andenabled the too big to fail banks – through “moral hazard” – to become even more reckless.

Indeed, the government made them big in the first place. As I noted in 2009:

As MIT economics professor and former IMF chief economist Simon Johnson points out today, the official White House position is that:

(1) The government created the mega-giants, and they are not the product of free market competition


(3) Giant banks are good for the economy

And given that the 12 Federal Reserve banks are private – see thisthis and this – the giant banks have a huge amount of influence on what the Fed does. Indeed, the money-center banks in New York control the New York Fed, the most powerful Fed bank. Indeed, Jamie Dimon – the head of JP Morgan Chase – is a Director of the New York Fed.

Any attempt by the left to say that the free market is all bad and the government is all good is naive and counter-productive.

And any attempt by the right to say that we should leave the giant banks alone because that’s the free market are wrong.

The Federal Reserve and the giant banks are part of a single malignant, symbiotic relationship. Conservatives and liberals should unite in breaking up both.

* This is an over-simplification. In reality, many conservatives and people who would like to end the Fed are part of the Wall Street protests … and reining in the Fed is one of the central platforms of Occupy Wall Street.





An Occupy Wall Street campaign demonstrator protests in Zuccotti Park in New York on October 7, 2011.
Anti-corruption protests in the US, which started from the Wall Street in New York, have now spread to 847 cities across the country, US activists report.

The “Occupy Wall Street” movement started its demonstrations about four weeks ago and it has continued gatherings until now.

As of Friday morning, the website “Occupy Together,” a hub for nationwide events in solidarity with “Occupy Wall Street” reported gatherings in 847 cities, Democracy Now reported.

On Thursday, activists kicked off the “October 2011” protest by occupying Freedom Plaza in Washington, DC.

Demonstrators protest against corporatism, unemployment, poverty and social inequality among other things.

They blame Wall Street practices and corporate influence on White House policies for the deepening US economic crisis.

“We need to stop investing in privatization. We need to start worrying about the 99 percent of the population. We need to start investing our money into social welfare programs,” one protester said.

The members of the Occupy Wall Street movement have vowed to stay out through winter.

Protesters use the slogan “We are the 99 percent” to call attention to the fact that they are not part of the one percent of Americans in possession of the nation’s wealth.