Government Pays $4.3 Million for Facebook, Twitter and Blog Research

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By Athena Yenko | February 17, 2014 1:28 PM EST

In its aim for stricter and widespread immigration policies, the Abbott government was willing to allot $4.3 million for Facebook, Twitter and blog research.

One of the research companies to have had contract signed with the government is Cubit Media Research which had two contracts. The company was tasked to work for the Department of Immigration and Border Protection to scout on millions of Australian social media posts, a job known as "media positioning analysis."

Founder and Chief executive for Cubit Media Research, Warren Weeks claimed that his company can scout 24 million social media posts in an hour.

''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?," Mr Weeks said.

Cubit Media research's software processes large media volumes of Internet hype from different social media accounts.

Although the company was bounded by a contract not to give information on what they can find, Mr Weeks said that his company can shed light on policy making.

''The antidote to a stupid knee-jerk reaction, or something which potentially can cost ... taxpayers a fortune, or it can just be wrong ... is to actually know what's being said,'' he said.

Mr Weeks told the Sydney Morning Herald that his company did the same job for the Rudd government and that the contract for the Abbott government was practically an extension of that job.

There were also other contracts signed with different market research company amounting to $385,500 to research a possible West Australian Senate election, $20,400 to track social media for the Department of Communications' research on cyber bullying and $67,300 to track and monitor the government's immigration policy.

However, for Labor's Senate leader Penny Wong the million research project only goes to show that Labor is wasting budget for unimportant things. She said the Abbott Government "refused to invest in jobs" but go on a spending spree for market research.

''This expenditure is another example of the Abbott government's distorted priorities,'' Senator Wong said.

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