Is the Australian Tax Office stalking your Facebook posts?

Government departments, such as the ATO, are looking at your social media posts.

The Australian Tax Office is stalking your Facebook posts

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



    To make a comment, please register or login
    pedro the swift
    2nd Mar 2017
    Great idea! I can only hope they catch out all the politicians and crims who are posting their selfies on social media.
    2nd Mar 2017
    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?
    2nd Mar 2017
    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?
    2nd Mar 2017
    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!
    2nd Mar 2017
    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.
    Old Geezer
    2nd Mar 2017
    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.
    Old Geezer
    2nd Mar 2017
    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.

    2nd Mar 2017
    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....
    2nd Mar 2017
    ... 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.
    Old Geezer
    2nd Mar 2017
    Trebor unfortunately I can't keep up with you as I have other more important things to do.
    2nd Mar 2017
    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.
    Old Geezer
    2nd Mar 2017
    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?
    2nd Mar 2017
    Yes a good idea. Does privacy mean cover up for criminals?
    invisible sock
    2nd Mar 2017
    "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.
    Old Geezer
    2nd Mar 2017
    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?

    2nd Mar 2017
    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.
    2nd Mar 2017
    I think it was the beautiful young girl on your arm at the time.... could be wrong....
    2nd Mar 2017
    2nd Mar 2017
    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.
    2nd Mar 2017
    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.
    2nd Mar 2017
    For many of you on here and facebook, it's obvious that you have never been under the scruinty of a govt. department before. Simple statements made in jest and photos posted can be accusing in so many ways. Friends or groups that you dont know or have nothing to with that you friend or join simply to follow brings up character info and questions as to your moral character. Even comments here and many places can be collected and formed into a portrait of you. I have personal experiences to have formed these opinions and I've seen govt. bodies twist and bend anything they want to manipulate a situation. Being careful is not nearly enough. Abstinance is mandatory.
    2nd Mar 2017
    Would it not be MUCH simpler to "TAX the FATCATS"?????
    2nd Mar 2017
    I would never put accurate personal info on Facebook - I put my birthday as 1 March - which is not correct. "friends" who don't know me that well have wished me a happy birthday - I haven't confessed to them re incorrect date - not worth the bother.
    Old Geezer
    2nd Mar 2017
    I have a second birth date for those who want to know but I don't want to tell them the right one. Funny thing I was in hospital and they asked me my date of birth and I gave them the wrong one and no one picked t up.
    2nd Mar 2017
    isn't it interesting. many advise how to cover up your sins if you are the great Aussie battler but woe betide if this formless society deems you a fatcat.
    ive never seen a fatcat counting his tens of millions from drug imports.
    what classification do you have for the black economy?
    oh yes, I forgot, "real people"
    2nd Mar 2017
    So the new laws to strip away privacy are nothing more than access to everything you ever say and do, now to be stored on servers to be used against you in the future.
    So much for protecting against terrorism. The truth emerges.
    2nd Mar 2017
    Good idea...maybe they see a videos of various folks claiming disability for back problems skiing and jumping on holiday, or climbing and running when they should be in a wheelchair
    Old Geezer
    2nd Mar 2017
    No they are just checking out the background in those photos of the OAPs which shows that they failed to adequately stack their $100 notes under their mattress.

    Or maybe just all the bling they are wearing.
    5th Mar 2017
    OG - is bling included in the asset test ?

    5th Mar 2017
    Centerlink should look at Facebook to catch pensioners and those on disability , newstart etc

    Billions potentially could be clawed back into the coffers
    5th Mar 2017
    I hope ATO have fun reading mine considering about 98% of it is on private message only.
    Besides friends I am on 2 medical pages and both of them are closed groups. Amounts of incomes and expenses are something I never mention....except the cost of some prescriptions which should be on PBS........and the fact that drug addicts are given free syringes with needles. Diabetics pay a fortune for theirs. They are a lifesaving necessity.

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