Twitter, Reddit, Facebook. All three have been accused over the last two years of letting themselves be used by Russian attempts to influence the 2016 American election and as a new procurement posting suggests, they are just a few of the social media sites Elections Canada wants to keep an even closer eye on as it tracks risks and trends ahead of the 2019 Canadian election. To do that, the elections agency plans to buy what it calls a “social media and open source data listening and analytics tool.” In a notice of proposed procurement posted on Tuesday morning, the elections agency writes that it needs the new tool to be able to “listen, in near real time, to key influencers to identify potential issues that may affect the election early on,” as well as to “detect, through timely and accurate notifications, potential incidents and trends affecting the integrity of Canadian electoral events in near real time.”
“The prevalence of social media use among Canadians and the degree to which it permeates their lives makes social media listening and open source research a crucial element for real-time situational awareness of the electoral environment and identification of possible issues that can affect the electoral process,” the agency wrote in the posting.
“Social media and other open source information have become important sources that support EC [Elections Canada] in administering elections in accordance with the CEA [Canada Elections Act] while respecting the broadest principles of electoral integrity and democracy.”
The system must also be able to identify and help connect geo-located incidents and monitor specific hashtags, keywords, handles and accounts.