Monitoring terrorists okay, targeted advertising not: Survey

Australians not worried about government monitoring social media for terrorist activity, survey finds

Seventy nine per cent of Australians support monitoring of social media to detect terrorist activity but draw the line at companies using Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn to make targeted advertising offers according to a new survey.

The Unisys security insights study, conducted by Newspoll, surveyed 1210 Australians during April this year.

It found that 79 per cent of respondents are comfortable with the monitoring of publicly available information on social media to detect terrorists. Some 68 per cent said they would support monitoring to identify public issues such as global warming.

However, 68 per cent of those surveyed said they were not comfortable with social media monitoring by organisations to conduct targeted advertising or offers. Only 27 per cent of respondents said they would be happy with companies identifying individuals for targeted advertising.

Meanwhile, 56 per cent of those surveyed said they were comfortable with employers using social media to evaluate job candidates for roles such as carers or teachers.

Commenting on the results, Unisys Asia Pacific security program director John Kendall said the use of social media by terrorist groups such as ISIS has been widely reported in the media.

“This has had an impact on the Australian public’s acceptance of the need for authorities to monitor these channels for public safety and national security purposes,” he said.

“There is very little support for using this information for marketing. Perhaps this is seen as too personal and invasive.”

According to Kendall, companies must be clear about why they are collecting data and how they will protect it.

Read more: The contact centre goes social

“The public is not comfortable having it used for a purpose they think is unnecessary,” he said.

Follow Hamish Barwick on Twitter: @HamishBarwick

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