AMBER VERNETTI WRITES: The Abbott government spent $4.3 million in social media research to measure public opinion concerning its immigration strategies, according to Fairfax Media. Further, the government has doled out over $65,000 to monitor the public’s thoughts regarding the “no boat, no visa” movement that aims at keeping asylum seekers at bay.

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The government has two contracts with the social media research organization Cubit Media Research, to probe the general public’s feelings about the touchy subject of immigration by studying tweets, Facebook posts, and blog entries.

Cubit Media Research processes 24 million ‘pieces’ of social media data per hour. The creator and CEO of Cubit, Warren Weeks, said, “People hire Cubit and people like us because we have the capacity to monitor millions of pieces a day. What’s the mood? What’s the tone?”

Past governments have used market research to collect information regarding the cyber bullying of younger generations and property. The Abbott government is especially intent on finding the pulse of the public about Australia’s stance on immigration. Most of the current government’s officials were elected on the grounds that they will “stop the boats” (i.e. the boats that carry asylum seekers).

According to a recent poll, 60 percent of Australians believe that there should be stricter monitoring of its borders.

The Abbott government plans to apply the gathered research from social media sites to policy making in the future, with the public’s feedback in mind.

Despite the costly factor of conducting social media research, Weeks said, “The antidote to a stupid knee-jerk reaction, or something that potentially can cost […] taxpayers a fortune, or it just can be wrong […] is to actually know what is being said.” Australian citizens should indeed consider accepting their government’s friend request. After all, it only pries because it cares.