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FDA Wants to Track its Social Media Reach

Carsten Reisinger/

The Food and Drug Administration is in the market for a digital tool to monitor how well it’s getting its message out through social media and whether the public’s response is positive or negative, solicitation documents show.

FDA’s external affairs office would use the proposed tool to track how often people share tweets and Facebook posts about its programs, which social media platforms they use to share the information, where they're doing it and what language the sharers are using, according to the sources sought notice published on Monday.

The agency also wants to “monitor overall conversations to see what the public is discussing about our work, answer questions for them, and develop consumer content for FDA.GOV and our social media channels,” the notice states.  

A sources sought notice doesn’t obligate the government to make any purchases.

“By monitoring the success and failure of our messages via measurement and sentiment, we can plan more useful strategies to serve our audiences,” the agency said.

The system should also track keywords identified by FDA and “provide a first glance at whether the chatter about FDA topic is positive, negative, or neutral with automated sentiment analysis,” the notice said.

The General Services Administration has encouraged agencies to use metrics and analysis to ensure their social media outreach efforts are as effective as possible. Agencies have found trouble in the past, though, when Congress thought their social media monitoring efforts encroached on the public’s privacy.

Some members of a House panel on counterterrorism and intelligence were livid in 2012, for example, after learning a Homeland Security Department contractor had used social media sentiment analysis to gauge Standish, Mich., residents’ thoughts about a short-lived proposal to move Guantanamo Bay prisoners to an area prison.

(Image via Carsten Reisinger/

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