Maintaining Social Licence for Government Use of False Social Media Personas

https://doi.org/10.36878/nsj20200201.04

Authors: Cleaver, O. & Nicklin, G.

Published in National Security Journal, 12 June 2020

Abstract

Governmental collection of unprotected information from social media platforms via social media intelligence (SOCMINT) techniques enable the detection and prevention of unlawful and malicious activity for law enforcement purposes. Relatively new, these techniques have come under public scrutiny. Recognised as valuable tools for security, law enforcement and regulatory agencies, how government SOCMINT policies align with public expectations is less clear. This article addresses the gap by comparing New Zealand public expectations about the use of false social media personas as a SOCMINT technique with government policies. 248 individuals were surveyed, establishing initial understandings of public expectations. Findings were compared with policies of key oversight agencies – the State Services Commission and Privacy Commission. This article argues that to maintain social licence, governments using false social media personas need to appropriately balance public protection with personal privacy interests. Transparent policy frameworks are needed to maintain trust and confidence in SOCMINT governance.

Keywords: SOCMINT, Social Media Policy, Facebook, False Personas, Social Licence, Privacy, Public Expectations, Trust and Confidence, Security, Intelligence

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