Uncle Sam wants tech toolkit to snoop social media stock scammers

Pumpers and dumpers, flash crashers and other miscreants under the SEC's spotlight

A businessman in handcuffs

The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has put out a call for proposals on a new system that would be able to identify possible stock scams posted on Twitter, Facebook, and other social networks.

The SEC posted the call last week with a September 11 deadline for proposals from developers on an application that would be able to comb feeds on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Google+ for dodgy deals and alerts, and then email warnings to the regulator if any posts trigger various keywords.

“The SEC requires subscription to a Commercial-Off the Shelf (COTS) social media monitoring tool that provides emailed alerts to SEC staff based on keyword searches for relevant topics,” the watchdog stated.

“The tool will allow SEC staff to control the content and number of alerts. The tool shall have a control dashboard for each user to customize alerts and their frequency.”

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In addition to the keyword search and email alert features, the SEC is hoping that the software would include the ability to identify possible fake/bot accounts an integrate with the public APIs for sites that offer them.

The SEC also wants the ability to monitor news sites and discussion forums, handle multiple alerts and filters for each user, and include both administrator and logging/auditing tools. On top of all that, the system needs to be written in HTML5 to be accessible via web browser.

No custom-built software, either. The COTS requirement means the commission does not want plans for a new piece of software or a re-tooled version of another product. The offer is also not good for large companies- the SEC is only looking to get a product from small businesses with less than $27.5m in annual revenue.

The call for proposals comes as the SEC is in the midst of a major tech upgrade to keep pace with the changing markets. Last year, the commission opened up its first dedicated “cyber” office with the creation of a unit specially tasked with finding and prosecuting cryptocurrency fraud. ®




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