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IRS Data Mining: Social Media

From the Desk of Lauran L. Stevenson

IRS Data Mining: Social Media

We are all aware that big companies collect our information to market better. There are other organizations, such as the IRS, who are data mining our social media accounts to gather more information on taxpayers.

The IRS has been collecting data from Facebook, Twitter, Ebay, as well as credit card and e-payment transactions to find irregularities and suspicious activity. IRS officials have been outlining plans at industry conferences, working with IBM, EMC and other private-sector specialists. In presentations, officials have said they may use the data for:

• Charting and analyzing social media

• Targeting audits by matching tax filings to social media or electronic payments

• Tracking individual Internet addresses and emailing patterns

• Sorting data in 32,000 categories of metadata and 1 million unique “attributes”

• Machine learning across “neural” networks

• Statistical and agent-based modeling

• Relationship analysis based on Social Security numbers and other personal identifiers

Currently, the IRS does use social media outlets to connect with taxpayers to provide transparency changes and current tax information. Information is provided on the IRS2GO app, YouTube, Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook and IRS podcasts that are available on iTunes. The IRS does strictly remind taxpayers that they will not be able to answer personal tax or account questions on any of these sites.

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