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Originally published November 6 2013

US government mining social media to track 'health behavior' of Americans

by J. D. Heyes

(NaturalNews) Just about every agency of the federal government, not to mention its spy apparatus, is prying apart the Fourth Amendment to get as much information as possible on every man, woman and child, no doubt for some spurious use at some point down the road.

The latest episode to this sad, unconstitutional story comes from the National Library of Medicine, which is busy data mining Facebook and Twitter in a bid to bolster its social media footprint and "assess how Tweets can be used as 'change-agents' for health behaviors," The Washington Free Beacon reports.

The agency, which belongs to the Department of Health and Human Services - the same department that brought America the disastrous roll-out of, the government's pathetic online Obamacare exchange - is set to install software on government computers that can store data from social media as part of a taxpayer-funded project.

Government violates our rights to discover the best way to rule us

"The National Library of Medicine is the world's largest biomedical library and makes its stored information available online at no charge to consumers, health professionals, and biomedical scientists through a diverse suite of resources," the agency said in a contract posted on Oct. 23.

"Evaluating how its databases and other resources are utilized is an important component of continuing quality improvement and has long been an on-going program of NLM management through a potpourri of monitoring tools," the agency said, according to the Free Beacon.

"The world-wide explosion in the use of social media provides a unique opportunity for sampling sentiment and use patterns of NLM's 'customers' and for comparing NLM to other sources of health-related information," the agency continued.

"By examining relevant tweets and other comments," the contract said, "NLM will gain insights to extent of use, context for which information was sought, and effects of various health-related announcements and events on usage patterns."

In specific, NLM analysts plan to examine the "value of tweets and other messages as teaching tools and change-agents for health-relevant behavior."

"The overarching objective of these studies is to obtain a richer understanding of how consumers, clinicians, researchers actually look for the health-related information they seek, and what they do with what they find," the agency said in a response to frequently asked questions about the project.

OhMyGov Inc. is a media firm specializing in promotion of government agencies. NLM plans to pay the firm $30,660 to monitor social media for the agency for an entire year.

To do that, the company plans to install software on computers at NLM head offices in Bethesda, Md., so its analysts can "maintain a comprehensive 'universe' of social media data."

Federal bureaucrats will then be trained on the operation of the software so they can access a searchable database for health-related content (no way this gets abused, huh?).

'We'll find out what we need to know - no matter what'

"Content from Twitter, Facebook, blogs, news sites, discussion boards, video and image sharing sites will be maintained by the Contractor and kept up-to-date in a timely manner and made available for query by Government," said the contract.

When a vendor asked NLF if it is interested in storing the data for "historical analysis," the agency responded, "Yes."

"Demographic characteristics" of Facebook and Twitter posts, the Free Beacon reported, will be noted "to the extent permitted by privacy regulations." The agency noted that it is interested in the location, number of followers and academic degrees held by users.

"The OhMyGov Media Monitoring and Policy Analysis system is the first and only business intelligence software completely politically focused," according to the company's website. "It provides real-time data mining, analysis, and visual analytics to uncover patterns in message uptake and critical insights into how issues are being characterized by Congress as well as the media, public, and key stakeholders."

Even if your privacy rights have to be violated in order to find out.


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