EU regulators want to see the Facebook messages of foreign exchange traders as part of an investigation into alleged collusion between banks.
According to a Bloomberg report, EU anti-trust regulators have already seen the emails and instant messages of traders but want to expand to Facebook messages.
The report cites three unnamed sources as confirming that banks have been asked to supply all communications between traders, including social media. Billions of Euros are traded on foreign exchange markets every day.
Preventing collusion between banks to fix rates is a major task for regulators, one made more difficult by the increasing number of, often private, messaging technologies.
It’s not the first time regulators have requested social media records. Electronic chats, emails and telephone calls were a crucial part of evidence in the investigation into banks fixing the interbank lending rate, known as Libor.
Traders from several banks were banned from chat rooms in the wake of scandals, including the manipulation of the Libor. Traders at banks including Barclays, Citigroup and Royal Bank of Scotland were not allowed to use online chat rooms as probes into price manipulations were underway globally.
More on social media
Rik Turner, analyst at Ovum, said that in the trading sector, like most verticals, social media is widely used.
“I have not seen any official research in the use of social media in the banking sector but wherever you have a generation of employees using social media in their private lives you will get it in the office,” he said.
“The risks in the trading sector are huge. The regulators need some young, tech-savvy employees that understand social media to do some serious investigation into its use.”
He said regulators should engage with IT suppliers to create warning systems that can alert companies in the trading sector if social media rules are broken.
Last year the World Economic Forum warned that the rapid spread of false information through social media could "wreak havoc" for businesses, global markets and society.
It said, for example, that in the trading sector misinformation has the potential to spark panic selling of shares.