Kiwis okay with social media monitoring for counter-terrorism, but not business

New Zealanders are mostly comfortable with their social media being monitored to detect terrorist activity, but not for ...
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New Zealanders are mostly comfortable with their social media being monitored to detect terrorist activity, but not for commercial gain.

New Zealanders are mostly comfortable with their social media being monitored to detect terrorist activity, but not for commercial gain.

A Unisys Security Insights survey of 500 New Zealanders showed that we are mostly okay with social media snooping if it seems to support a public good, while social media monitoring for commercial gains was generally looked down upon.

The survey concerned publicly available social media information, not private data.

It found 73 per cent of respondents supported monitoring to detect possibly terrorist activity. Two thirds (66 per cent) supported monitoring as a way to identify public issues and concerns, while 63 per cent found it appropriate as a method of vetting new employees.

Kiwis were less keen on commercial use of the data - despite the fact that commercial exploitation of social insights is intrinsic to sites like Facebook. Just 30 per cent supported social media monitoring as a strategy to target advertising at specific users. Fifty-nine per cent supported social media monitoring as a method for tracking public sentiment about an organisation.

"What is clear is that people are more accepting of monitoring when it was perceived as being for the greater good," said Steve Griffin of Unisys.

Professionals have been abandoning LinkedIn because of its overly aggressive marketing strategy.

Professionals have been abandoning LinkedIn because of its overly aggressive marketing strategy.

New Zealand's results were broadly similar to Australia's. Most of the countries in the survey ranked detecting possible terrorist activity as the most acceptable form of monitoring, except for Malaysia. Malaysian respondents ranked vetting a possible employee at the top.

The results show that companies should be wary of exploiting user data too heavily, Griffin said.

"Some of the subtext I would read into this insight is that just because you can collect and analyse data, it doesn't mean you should," Griffin said.

"The example I would give is that of several NZ executives who have come off LinkedIn because of the proliferation of unsolicited contact from that company."

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LinkedIn is a social network designed for professionals. It has regularly come under fire for its aggressive email engagement strategy.

"Whereas everyone used to be on LinkedIn, now people are finding ways to get off it, because it has become an intrusion."

 - © Fairfax NZ News

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