Is the Australian Tax Office stalking your Facebook posts?

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The Australian Tax Office (ATO) is the first in a line of Federal Government departments to employ a team of data-mining specialists that will analyse your social media for data matching purposes.

The data is captured by complex algorithms, evaluated by analytic experts and then used to alert the ATO to clients it believes could be misreporting income or claiming dodgy deductions.

So what exactly are the robots looking for?

  • The offering of services for cash.
  • A disconnect between your tax return and the lifestyle you are living.
  • Pictures and or video showing you enjoying a holiday when you have claimed this travel as a work-related deduction.

If you’re concerned about your privacy, then now is the time to ensure that your social media security levels are up to standard. A recommended first step is to hide your Facebook and Twitter posts from prying eyes by changing your security settings to ‘friend only’ viewing in the ‘Settings’ area. It is also advised that, to remain outside the reach of robot tracking, you don’t use your full name, phone number or email address on any social media website. 

It won’t be long before similar techniques are employed across all Federal Government departments, including Centrelink. If you have nothing to hide, then you needn’t worry. If you do have something to hide, don’t be stupid enough to post it on social media.

What do you think? Is this new initiative from the ATO a smart way to catch out those exploiting the system? Or are these new measures just another invasion of your privacy?

Read more at The Age

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Written by Drew

Starting out as a week of work experience in 2005 while studying his Bachelor of Business at Swinburne University, Drew has never left his post and has been with the company ever since, working on the websites digital needs. Drew has a passion for all things technology which is only rivalled for his love of all things sport (watching, not playing).


Total Comments: 31
  1. 0

    Great idea! I can only hope they catch out all the politicians and crims who are posting their selfies on social media.

    • 0

      Mach’Mud the Unemployed from Bankistan driving a high end Merc? That’s the go…

      Jeez – if I go to the club all spick and span with $20 and take a ‘selfie’, does that mean I’ve got a hoard of dullahs coming in from illegal revenue strands?

    • 0

      I posted a short video of a very beautiful view from a local lookout – does that mean I’m gallivanting around the world with hidden gold?

    • 0

      Exactly right Pedro!
      It is more worth the effort and time for ATO to investigate their own employees as I have learnt that there are a number who are avoiding paying tax as are many others in the corporate and white collar areas.
      Fraud of any kind is not recommended but surely pursuing the white collar criminals is a more efficient use of our taxpayers’ dollars!

    • 0

      Yes Men, the Italians did a great job by stopping luxury cars and boats and then checking ATO documents. They found lots of black money and discrepancies and made quite a bit of revenue for honest taxpayers.

    • 0

      ATO and Centrelink are now also checking insurance policies for those expensive items over a certain value that must be listed to be covered by insurance.

  2. 0

    Centrelink loves facebook and I can’t see why the ATO should not use it too.

    If you are stupid enough to put all your correct details on facebook then you are asking for trouble. There is enough details of some people to make identity fraud so easy for those that way inclined.

  3. 0

    My sympathies to the ATO for wasting their time, but I suppose they need to find something to do since they are not tasked to pursue corporate piracy etc.

    They’ll find nothing in mine….

    • 0

      … on the other hand – the security services might mine a lot of info about my views here and elsewhere – they are welcome to them, and often I feel they may secretly agree with some.

      If I were concerned over their activities and research into my views, I wouldn’t be posting them – but I do so clearly (as much as possible) and am often quite ‘radical’ in my views. Any healthy society should have dissidents who at least attempt to be clear and lucid…. here in Ylcland we have Old Geezer as our dissident – part of the furniture and treated as such – but nobody is ‘gunning’ for him or wanting to put him in a gulag.

    • 0

      Trebor unfortunately I can’t keep up with you as I have other more important things to do.

  4. 0

    It would be great if the ATO showed such zeal and application when going after multinational and wealth tax avoiders like our beloved PM with his offshore bank accounts. As always it is the easy targets with this government. Interesting isn’t it when the metadata farce was running it was presented as vital for national security, now it is used as just another tool for stuffing it up the general population.

    • 0

      Any smart crim would know how to protect his metadata so that only catches out the stupid people. Any kid today knows how to download anything without it showing up in their metadata.

      How many people know that we have regional restrictions on what we can access on the net?

  5. 0

    Yes a good idea. Does privacy mean cover up for criminals?

  6. 0

    “If you’re concerned about your privacy, then now is the time to ensure that your social media security levels are up to standard.”

    That won’t stop them.
    Nothing is beyond their reach.

    • 0

      If you hang you dirty washing out for all to see then some of that dirt will stick in places you would have never imagined. Forget security levels as they are only their to keep honest people honest.

      How many of you men can refuse a nice young woman wanting to be your friend?

  7. 0

    Storm in a teacup. The average citizen has nothing to hide so there should not be any problems with the ATO trolling for hidden wealth. It’s interesting that people want the ATO to chase up multinationals who pay a small percentage in tax legally but want the ATO to stop chasing the little guy who is ripping us all off by evading tax responsibilities illegally.

    And TREBOR, I too took a video of a very beautiful local from a view lookout and got into a whole world of pain when my better half found it. I would have been better off dealing with the rottweilers from the ATO.

  8. 0


  9. 0

    I see nothing wrong in the ATO checking people’s tax returns. Nor do I see anything wrong about them checking through social media to do it. If someone is stupid enough to post on facebook for all to see then they should expect it to be seen. And that includes by actual or prospective employers too as well as ATO, Centrelink and a host of other.

  10. 0

    If people are cheating they deserve it they should employ more ATO. staff, they would soon pay their way.Tax havens and multinationals are too big and smart to take on so watch out little people.

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