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General Motors says it is now monitoring social media and automotive discussion boards to detect potential safety issues, and deal with them earlier rather than later.

Dan Ammann, GM’s president, told Bloomberg this week that the company has “to identify issues before they become a problem”.

To that end, GM is now monitoring various sectors of the internet 24 hours a day, seven days a week to find and, hopefully, fix problems before they become a full blown crisis. The team responsible for this is watching sites like Twitter and automotive forums, as well as monitoring feedback from the company’s dealers.

In the past General Motors has relied primarily on complaints lodged by owners to the official government bodies, such as the United States’ National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Since the beginning of this year General Motors has been forced to recall over 30 million vehicles worldwide for a wide variety of issues, stretching from faulty fuel pumps and incorrect airbag deployment to seatbelt failures and transmission problems.

Around 17 million of the recalled vehicles involve faulty ignition switches. Some of these switches may slip into the off or accessory position from on, causing not only the loss of engine power, but also disabling numerous safety systems, including ABS and airbags.

Some of these ignition system problems were reportedly known about for over a decade, but were ignored or swept under the carpet, with at least 15 employees sacked for their actions.

The company has also setup a fund to compensate families of those who have died to due these malfunctioning ignition switches.