Studies and research reports have shown that Twitter can be used as an early indicator of changing investor sentiment around particular stocks and commodities. This allows Twitter data to be used to predict price fluctuations in the market.
The FBI sees social media as a potential breeding ground for securities fraud, and has agents scouring Twitter and Facebook for tips, according to two top agents overseeing a long-running investigation into insider trading in the $2 trillion hedge fund industry, Reuters reports.
April Brooks, a special agent in charge of the New York field office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and David Chaves, a supervisory agent, said it is hard to predict the next wave of securities fraud, but they add that it will have a lot to do with advances in technology and social media.
“I will tell you technology will play a huge part, social media, Twitter. Any kind of technology that is new and doesn’t exist today, if there is any way to exploit it, these individuals will exploit it,” Brooks told Reuters TV in an interview for the Reuters Investment Outlook 2013 Summit.
Brooks and Chaves oversee what the FBI calls “Operation Perfect Hedge,” which has led to more than 60 convictions of hedge fund traders, analysts and industry consultants.
Some hedge funds and other investors have criticized U.S. authorities for cracking down on insider trading to distract attention from the fact that law enforcement has not been able to bring any prosecutions against Wall Street bankers over the financial crisis.
Brooks and Chaves acknowledged the criticism. They said there is a desire to prosecute, but the laws are not there to criminalize actions that some think deserve to be punished.