Is the NSA’s “Big Brother” spying the same as social media monitoring?

Is the NSA’s “Big Brother” spying the same as social media monitoring?

NSA WiretappingI’m often asked what I do for a living.

When I tell someone that Trackur is a social media monitoring software company, I normally go on to explain just what that means. Typically, I’ll elaborate, “Let’s say you tweeted a complaint about a restaurant, our software would help that restaurant to discover and respond to your tweet. We help companies stay in touch with their customers via social media.”

Simple enough, right?

Well, then the NSA’s Prism surveillance scandal hit and now those not knee-deep in reputation management hear “social media monitoring” and assume it’s something nefarious. “Oh, so like the government spying? You can see everything someone is doing at their computer?”


Heaven forbid. I would probably go blind if we were ever able to see everything someone did on the internet!

I explained that [highlight color=”yellow”]we’re only able to monitor those posts, tweets, or status updates that you make publicly available for all to see. We can’t monitor anything that is marked private.[/highlight] No private Twitter feeds, or Facebook updates just to your friends, or Instagram photos not shared with everyone. If it’s private, it’s private.

Now, we do sometimes get asked if that is something we could do. Monitor private conversations. After I explain that we cannot–and would not–I then share why I think it’s generally unimportant anyway. If someone has complained privately, then it’s not in the public realm–damaging your reputation. However, the moment it hits a public channel, you can bet Trackur will find it!

So, if you hear surveillance, spying, or wiretapping of social media, then that’s not us. That’s the big G, keeping tabs on you.

If you hear, social media monitoring, listening, tracking, measurement, or analytics. That’s us…and we do a pretty darn good job at it, too!

ByAndy Beal

Andy Beal is The Original Online Reputation Expert™. A bestselling author of two critically-acclaimed reputation management books, a keynote speaker at dozens of events, and brand consultant experience with thousands of individuals and companies.