Social Media Auditing

It’s tax season. Imagine you finish your 1040 and send it off, only to learn that your taxes are being audited.

In the initial notification of a tax audit, you find this request:

As part of this audit process, please produce a copy of every 140-character message, commonly referred to as “tweet,” ever posted to your account on the social media website Twitter, as well as a copy of every post ever made to your Facebook profile.

How would you respond to such a request by an agency of the Federal government? How would you feel?

Today on C-SPAN, my wife watched the ongoing House investigation into the IRS scandal. Representative Ted Poe of Texas asked the representative of True the Vote, for confirmation, whether she was asked by the federal government to produce the following as part of her organization’s application for 501 c 4 status:

All tweets ever tweeted.
All Facebook posts, ever.
All the places she’s ever spoken publicly.
Copies of all speeches in those public places.
All the places she would speak in the future.
All the names or groups who heard her speak.
The mailing lists and attendee lists at each location.

Imagine running into that kind of request from the federal government, for just one moment.

I’m trying to think of what it would take to sit at the computer, copy and paste, and put together a Word document containing literally every tweet I have ever posted, every Facebook status update.

Every tweet from my recent road trip. Every status about something my kids did wrong. Every post I made about whatever interested me that day. Every expression of frustration at something political. Every comment I’ve made on anyone else’s status. Every celebration of how beautiful my wife and children are, and how grateful I am for my family.

I can’t imagine compiling and providing that to the federal government, mainly because why do they need to know all of that?

Critics dismiss these proceedings as made-up scandals, a spectacle, theater pandering to opponents of this Administration. On Sunday before the Super Bowl, the President famously commented on the ongoing investigation saying there’s no sign of corruption at the IRS. Much like discussion of misinformation intentionally released by government officials to the public concerning the attack at Benghazi, this IRS business is a non-issue, and the only reason people are still talking about it is because Fox News keeps telling them to. So the President believes.

I’m sorry. I get concerned when I listen to a list of special visits the rep from True the Vote enjoyed – as a supposed natural part of the process and not as any sort of government oppression at all, because clearly there was none.

Picture these folk knocking on your door:
SIX visits from the FBI investigating potential terror ties.
One visit from OSHA.
One from your state branch of the EPA.
One from the ATF.

Does that seem oppressive? Does that seem corrupt? Or does that sound like a made-up scandal?

I stop to think, “Hey, if we have a government that can do that to somebody and never have to answer for it, they will probably do it to anybody they choose.”

And that deeply concerns me.

And that, Mr. President, is why I’m still talking about it. Because it happened, and we’re all still wondering not how but if our government will keep it from happening again.

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