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Canadian Government Hires Private Firm To Monitor Social Networks; Correct Misinformation

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posted on May, 23 2010 @ 12:36 PM
So this is also interesting.

The next time you post an opinion in an online forum or a Facebook group message board, don't be surprised if you get a rebuttal from a federal employee.

The government is looking for ways to monitor online chatter about political issues and correct what it perceives as misinformation.

The move started recently with a pilot project on the East Coast seal hunt. A Toronto-based company called Social Media Group has been hired to help counter some information put forward by the anti-sealing movement.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade has paid the firm $75,000 "to monitor social activity and help identify ... areas where misinformation is being presented and repeated as fact," Simone MacAndrew, a department spokesperson, said in an email.

The firm alerts the government to questionable online comments and then employees in Foreign Affairs or the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, who have recently been trained in online posting, point the authors to information the government considers more accurate.

It appears to be just the beginning.

The seal hunt pilot project was set up in part "to establish foundations and recommendations for future programs and campaigns to use social media as another way to listen to, inform and engage with Canadians," MacAndrew added.

For some, the move to online monitoring was to be expected.

"I think we're seeing the government recognize that millions of Canadians are actively participating online in social networks," said Michael Geist, a law professor at the University of Ottawa who specializes in Internet law.

"We've had Facebook groups in Canada that have grown to the tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of people, and they've clearly had a direct impact on public policy."

Geist himself launched such a Facebook group in 2007. He managed to get more than 84,000 members to help denounce a proposed copyright law that critics said would have restricted the way in which people use, copy or share books, movies and music they purchase. The bill was eventually put up for public consultations and is expected to be reintroduced in Parliament in the coming days. It remains to be seen, however, whether the online group managed to convince the government to alter the bill.

The commercial seal hunt might be an ideal test case for government involvement in online debate. The issue has polarized Canadians.

Opponents call the hunt cruel and needless and say seals are sometimes skinned alive or killed as whitecoated newborns. Supporters point out that regulations governing the hunt forbid both tactics and the hunt is heavily monitored. They accuse opponents of spreading lies by having celebrities such as Paul McCartney pose with whitecoat seals, pleading for their protection.

Some groups are wary of government employees being paid to post comments.

"I would certainly hope they would be up front about who they are," said Sheryl Fink, a senior researcher with the International Fund for Animal Welfare, a group which has long opposed the seal hunt.

"I think it does (help) if it's a link to an actual study. If it's a link to a press release that's got inaccurate information, that's not helping at all. It's, I guess, the distinction between the communications side of the government departments ... and the actual science or data."


So, now we are openly having Private Firms or "Disinfo" agents as we call them here on Social Networks making sure that we have the right information.

Information that the government deems more "reliable".



posted on May, 23 2010 @ 01:17 PM
This is troubling stuff! Once a "democracy" starts utilising its vast pools of taxpayers income to promote what "dominant parties" perceive to be ideological wisdom-"fact" then it becomes very hard to define whether they are actually using taxpayers money as a way of party, political funding. E.g. for their own ideologies which they are (self-evidently) incapable of arguing and debating, winning fairly.
There should never be an accepted need to PAY the Canadian public (or any other public) to stand-up, for what they believe is right. If social-networking, or (indeed) ATS is any experience, then you'll know its fact people-the public, are more than happy to do it themselves, for FREE!!!

So why the need for money? Clearly the (apparently) "democratic minded" politicians would like to see money, spent, to promote those less popular views, those views that are so **** that they need public money for "support" (or maybe in time) even their own, widespread, political AT ALL.

I see "working together" to undermine one ideologies posts, or to sabotage the authors threads with e.g. tedious comments, as no different (in anyway at all) to the other more traditional forms, of political oppression. Because they have the same intentions, and aspire to achieve same results.
But at least the Canadian "Big Brother" (I mean Big Government) cares about what you the people think. Some might even say it "loves" what you think! Ok guess that's it for quotes from "George Orwell's 1984" (well for today) (I hope, at least!).

posted on May, 23 2010 @ 01:28 PM
reply to post by Liberal1984

I agree with you 100%.

I'm actually a bit surprised to hear about it in the news. The government doesn't really see a problem with using Tax Payer money for this sort of venture.

I see as being precedent of things to come.

I mean who are they to determine what is "proper" information is?

You can be sure it will exclude any wrong doings from the government or companies associated with the projects they are trying to promote.


posted on May, 23 2010 @ 01:37 PM
The sad thing is with our current government, this doesn't surprise me in the slightest.

The endless propaganda grows very tiring.

[edit on 23-5-2010 by Duzey]

posted on May, 23 2010 @ 01:37 PM
reply to post by tothetenthpower

Does this thread from America's Cass Sunstein sound familiar?

posted on May, 23 2010 @ 01:38 PM

Originally posted by Duzey
The sad thing is with our current government, this doesn't surprise me in the slightest.

The endless propaganda grows very tiring.

[edit on 23-5-2010 by Duzey]

Question for you Duzey, would you support an NDP government now that we've realized that the Blues and Reds are all the same?

A change of pace perhaps? Or do you expect it to be the same?

I think Canadians want to try something new.


posted on May, 23 2010 @ 01:39 PM
reply to post by manta78

As another poster mentioned in another thread.

Canada is a "Mouse" who have to constantly move around when America, the "Elephant" decides to shift it's weight.

I'm not surprised we are moving in this direction, other than the fact they told us about it.


posted on May, 23 2010 @ 02:03 PM
reply to post by tothetenthpower

I've lived through provincial NDP governments and the idea of a NDP federal government leaves me crying in the corner. That's not to say they don't have some good ideas, but I can't afford them and neither can Canada.

The NDP isn't 'new' to me at all, they are the same bunch they have always been - pandering to the core supportors in unions and getting their 20% support.

[edit on 23-5-2010 by Duzey]

posted on May, 23 2010 @ 02:10 PM
reply to post by Duzey

Good points.

I dunno, I think a change in leadership with the NDP and a rehash of their platform would give them good footing in the next election.

Then again, 40% of us don't like to vote so I guess it would not matter anyway would it?


posted on May, 23 2010 @ 02:31 PM
"Manufacturing Consensus".....sounds all to familiar doesn't it ?

F'n !@#$#$% Trolls

posted on May, 23 2010 @ 02:46 PM
What bothers me the most about this is that they are rolling this out now. There isn't really much going on right now to require this type of action.

Makes me wonder if this isn't an effort to have the story come and go at a time when no one is really looking for it or paying attention.

Ask yourself; why is it increasing more important globally for government to have more and more control over what is posted on the internet and what people can gain access too? We are seeing efforts everywhere to either completely censor the internet or at the very least control what makes into the public forums.

The MSM is losing out to the internet, all the effort to keep real news from reaching the populace has hit a deadend.

I'm not going to derail by bringing up possibilities, but in light of members showing how Google Earth is photo shopping images people can access I have to wonder (I can understand sensitive military locations being editted, but open pit mines?).

Use the search function here on the site, there are dozens of pages oconcerning it.

What is government trying to keep quiet? Is it simplly a matter of the current system cracking and TPTB trying to limp on, or is there something more that they are trying to keep ahead of?

Whatever the driving force is, when governments exert this much effort to try and limit the open sharing of knowledge I have to question their motives.

posted on May, 23 2010 @ 03:03 PM
It's a sad day for Canada when this becomes acceptable for the government to do. No surprise though.

Even here on ATS it's usually pretty evident who is posting disinfo and has an agenda majority of the time. Look to the oil disaster threads and you'll see plenty of recent examples of propaganda being posted by a couple members, it's obvious they're working for somebody.

posted on May, 23 2010 @ 05:35 PM
Well the MSM has FINALLY caught up with ATS. How many months did it take them?

Let us see, if Canada spends say $5 million on it, you can bet the US spends about $50 billion on it. Can you say stimulus package? I bet there is a whole agency typing away.

Let me post my foe list here-

Protoplasmic Traveler had an awesome thread on the Cass Sunstein paper-

Obama staffer wants 'cognitive infiltration' of 9/11 conspiracy groups

This was created 1/14/10, hmmmmm, kinda behind the times aren't you MSM?

posted on Aug, 31 2010 @ 01:49 PM
This is merely opening moves and what weve seen so far is nothing to the total control that will be possible for the gov boys to implement within less than a decade....
Many different mind control systems are in place already, with more to come......I wonder how much chances my grandchildren will have of knowing truely their own minds......
For this to be thwarted and freedom enhanced, not diminished,we will have to replace almost the entire world political leaders and hacks....
We will have to change the direction of much that is being implemented today.....Can we do this?
I highly doubt it by now.....
God help us cause we dont seem to be able to help ourselves anymore.....

posted on Aug, 31 2010 @ 09:31 PM
This is just another public relations campaign by the government. They used to take out TV ads, then online ads, and now they're using blog posts to let you know about their current position. It's not mere propaganda. They are informing you of the government's official stance on issues, and are not censoring opposition. They respond to opposition to let those uninformed on government policy as to the actual aim of the policy. It is up to you to decide whether the government position or the opposition is correct.

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