Facebook ‘Listening’ Costs Taxpayers Quarter Million
“The government has spent nearly a quarter of a million dollars of taxpayers’ money monitoring your social media to form its Covid response,” says ACT chief David Seymour.
“Last week it was revealed that a government-mandated company had been monitoring social media comments on the Covid-19 response for almost two years, reporting every four days.
“Now ACT can reveal it cost Kiwis $234,693.50. New Zealanders are weathering this cost of living crisis. As Kiwi families tighten their belts, it is clear the government is not doing not the same thing.
“We were told that Jacinda Ardern ‘followed the science’ throughout the COVID pandemic but, over time, we learn that it was actually political science.
“The MIQ has caused untold human misery and has continued well past its expiry date. We now know that the government was advised that the MIQ was not needed from November, did they keep it based on social media listening?
“ACT pointed out at the time that while people who tested positive for COVID could self-isolate at home, it made no sense for people arriving from abroad to suffer from MIQ. It was totally unfair to the thousands of people who missed a spot and couldn’t even make it.
“One can only suspect that the government kept the MIQ for months of further misery because they thought doing the right thing would be unpopular. It is pathetic.
“If the government ignored public health advice and kept the MIQ based on social media listening, then what was the real purpose of social media listening? Was it to bolster the public health response or protect the political interests of Labour?
“Throughout the pandemic, ACT has issued comprehensive guidance documents based on balancing all aspects of human well-being. This is what the government should have balanced, but it hasn’t. It seems that their main priority was the political welfare of Labour.
“It’s time for the government to stop this wasteful spending, it can start by following ACT’s alternative budget for real change that would reduce wasteful spending by $5.3 billion in 2023.”
The WPQ can be found here:
Response to COVID-19 (Honourable Chris Hipkins)
Question: How much funding has Annalect received to date, if any, to provide social listening reports?
Answer: I am informed that the Annalect reports were first commissioned by the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet (DPMC) in April 2020 following the first nationwide lockdown. They were commissioned by OMD, the media buying agency for the COVID-19 response. DPMC did not directly contract Annalect in 2020 or 2021. In compiling these reports, analysts used the Brandwatch Consumer Research tool to observe important themes regarding the COVID-19 response, analyzing social news content and digital on public channels in New Zealand. The data analyzed is already available in the public space. These are publicly viewable posts and comments on public Facebook pages, Twitter, Reddit and other public blogs and forums in New Zealand. No names have been included in reports compiled by Annalect to ensure confidentiality of comments. The only very occasional exception might be if the comment was made by a recognized expert in a public forum. All work was done in New Zealand, by New Zealand-based analysts. Analyzes were undertaken on the most current topics related to COVID-19, for example: changes in parameters, new variants, vaccinations and health behaviors. It also included an analysis of issues of continued interest in the response, such as mental health and domestic violence. As the response to the pandemic has evolved, tools such as this have enabled the COVID-19 group to be nimble and adapt communications to respond to questions and concerns from Newcomers. Zealanders. I am informed that the analysis compiled by Annalect also helped measure the success of the Unite against COVID-19 communications and public information campaign, as it aimed to keep New Zealanders informed throughout the different phases. of the answer. It provided valuable insights into the impact of pandemic restrictions, New Zealanders’ acceptance of them and their willingness to adopt health behaviors related to COVID-19. This information has been important in keeping our communities safe and maintaining the public trust necessary for an effective response. This allowed the COVID-19 group to identify if there were any gaps in the audience’s understanding of announcements and restrictions so that personalized communications could be developed to meet those needs. I am informed that DPMC incurred expenses of $133,894.50 for the acquisition of 58 social media analytics reports for fiscal year 2020/21, and $100,799.00 for the acquisition of 92 reports during the current fiscal year in the month of April 2022. The DPMC has now stopped commissioning Annalect reports.
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