Print 41 comment(s) - last by ppardee.. on Jul 9 at 4:02 PM

  (Source: Getty Images)
Meanwhile federal agency shuts down "" as keeping it up was "too expensive"

Kazoos, Nerf footballsinternet pornography, wine, and romance novels: we were a bit disappointed when the government blew our tax dollars on buying those things for itself.  But the revelation that the U.S. Department of State (DoS) spent $630,000 USD in taxpayer dollars advertising to get "likes" on, Inc.'s (FB) titular social network has some decrying that government waste has gone a bridge too far.

I. Your Taxpayer Dollars at Work

The program was run by the Department's Bureau of International Information Programs from 2011 to March 2013, during the leadership of Secretaries of State Hilary Clinton, and her successor John Kerry.  It was a "success", so to speak.  The State Department's page started with only 100,000 likes at the start of the campaign, and its foreign page only had tens of thousands of likes.  By the end the U.S. page had 2 million likes and the foreign page had swelled to 450,000 likes.

But that didn't stop some State Department employees from blowing the whistle on their supervisors.

The agency's inspector general in an audit reports, "Many in the bureau criticize the advertising campaigns as 'buying fans' who may have once clicked on an ad or 'liked' a photo but have no real interest in the topic and have never engaged further."

Hillary Clinton
Hillary Clinton's State Dept. reign is yet again under fire, this time for gov't waste.
[Image Source: Reuters]

The IG also complains that the program failed to decide whom to target its message too, writing, "The absence of a Department wide PD [public diplomacy] strategy tying resources to priorities directly affects IIP's work. Fundamental questions remain unresolved. What is the proper balance between engaging young people and marginalized groups versus elites and opinion leaders?"

II. Program Was Basically Worthless

For a time the likes might have been worth something, as posts from pages you "liked" would show up in your news feed.  But thanks to a September 2012 change, Facebook banished such posts from the news feed by default, instead requiring companies to pay reoccurring fees to have their messages show up.

The IG complains that the State Department's social media presence is a mess, with over 150 pages for different bureaus, many of which overlap.

Here's the full report:

State Department Facebook Likes IG Report

The IG also gripes that only 2 percent of "fans" of the page actually were engaged with it in various ways, such as liking posts, sharing content, or commenting.  The IG also took issue with the age of the fans.  The State Department had hoped to target "older influence leaders", but the fans who liked its page were largely younger folks.

III. State Department Shuts Down

So how did the State Department get all that money to buy Facebook likes and engage in other manner of wasteful spending?  Apparently it saved some resources by shutting down the website

When you visit the site, you now get the message:

It looks like the public has a clearer vision of where the State Department's spending priorities lie.

Sources: State Department IG via Scribd, ZDNET

Comments     Threshold

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By Red Storm on 7/3/2013 12:51:39 PM , Rating: 5
It's just sad when you see how poorly run so many agencies/departments are.

By retrospooty on 7/3/2013 1:01:25 PM , Rating: 5
By TerranMagistrate on 7/3/13, Rating: 0
By Reclaimer77 on 7/3/13, Rating: 0
By Brandon Hill on 7/3/2013 1:54:05 PM , Rating: 5
I guess my question is, why the heck does the gov even care about Facebook likes? Seriously, this is the equivalent of paying someone to write in your senior yearbook.

By JediJeb on 7/3/2013 2:14:29 PM , Rating: 4
Very true!

But then, why does anyone even care about Facebook likes?

By MechanicalTechie on 7/3/2013 7:13:58 PM , Rating: 2
Because the majority of people are worthless pieces of shit.

By Bonesdad on 7/4/2013 9:16:30 PM , Rating: 2
EXACTLY!!!! Every business in America and beyond is spending tons of money on Facebook right now...not surprised the gov is doing the same. ALL municipalities have a FB site and I'm sure every gov agency does too. Why does anyone care about FB AT ALL???

By BRB29 on 7/5/2013 8:29:37 AM , Rating: 2
EXACTLY!!!! Every business in America and beyond is spending tons of money on Facebook right now.

No! every business is not spending tons of money into facebook. They are using it because it is free and has great visibility since everyone is on it. It's pretty much free advertisement. You know how people also love to "check in" on places in facebook because they think the world needs to know what they're eating and where.

ALL municipalities have a FB site and I'm sure every gov agency does too. Why does anyone care about FB AT ALL???

Not every government agency have a facebook site. Why does anyone care about FB? Almost everyone you know have one, go ask them.

By JediJeb on 7/5/2013 5:41:26 PM , Rating: 2
I think maybe 5 people I know have Facebook pages and maybe 2 of those actually look at it more than once a month. I honestly couldn't even tell you what a Facebook page looks like, never been to one.

By Florinator on 7/3/2013 2:49:18 PM , Rating: 3
Someone had to reach a goal to look good on their annual performance review...

By Samus on 7/3/2013 3:51:35 PM , Rating: 2
This is an experiment (that should have never been approved in the first place) gone horribly wrong, too long.

By Reclaimer77 on 7/3/13, Rating: -1
By Donkey2008 on 7/4/2013 3:38:03 PM , Rating: 2
Thanks for the rant Mr Limbaugh.

By retrospooty on 7/4/2013 5:52:26 PM , Rating: 2
What did he say that wasnt correct? Maybe Benghazi wasnt that huge of a deal (it was just a mistake), but it isnt about Bengazi, its about the total lack of leadership and criminal waste of taxpayer money... Obviously it goes way beyond the scope of the article above... The above article is just yet another slap in the face of America.

I voted for Obama in 08, so dont call me one of those "Limbaugh" nuts. I voted for him in 08, by 10 I was wondering WTF is he doing? By the 12 election, I was definitely not voting for him again. What a horrible job he has done. Now it's scandal after scandal, issue after issue and slap after slap in the face of the American public.

Totally true...

And we all had such high hopes.

By Argon18 on 7/8/2013 12:41:01 PM , Rating: 2
I think a lot of people are in the same camp, watching "hope" crash and burn. So many scandals, so much mis-management, and so much PR-spin to maintain his image. Not to mention the looming disaster of run-away debt and deficit.

He ran on a campaign of "cleaning up Washington" and "not a politician". Funny.

By Bonesdad on 7/4/2013 9:17:25 PM , Rating: 2
Wish I had downvoted you before I posted above...

By Wulf145 on 7/5/2013 3:36:39 AM , Rating: 3
Benghazi, one of the biggest fumbles of all time, happening on her watch?

I would say the Invasion and Occupation of Iraq rates far above Bengazi.

By Argon18 on 7/8/2013 12:46:29 PM , Rating: 2
Either that's a bad joke, or you're really clueless. Or forgetful? The 600,000+ bodies in mass graves that Saddam executed are one of the largest genocide events in history. Taking him out of power was a very good thing. Not to mention that the entire region saw Saddam as a nut-job, that negatively impacted stability of the entire region. Invading Iraq was the right thing to do.

Now had you said occupation of Afghanistan, I'd have agreed with you. We should have gone in, killed a bunch of Al Queda, and then left. That country has never had a working central government, and most of the people there don't want one anyways. Thinking we could create one was a mistake.

By ppardee on 7/9/2013 4:02:43 PM , Rating: 2
Saddam was a bad dude, but so are the Muslims killing people in Darfur, but we didn't go in there and we're not stopping them. We didn't stop Stalin from killing millions of people during the Holodomor. We didn't stop Mao from killing tens of millions during the Great Leap Forward.

We're not the world's police force. The only time we have a right to attack another nation is when they pose an immediate threat to our security. If that's the case, we do as you said. Bomb the ports, airports, roads, military bases, training camps, and anything else that would hinder their ability to attack us, then get out.

Also, the region is far less stable than it was while Saddam was in power. Egypt has had 2 coups in 18 months, there is civil war in Syria that has turned into a regional sectarian war. Afghan soldiers are killing their trainers and Iraq still hasn't recovered. When you take someone like Saddam out of the picture, the whole region becomes unstable. Pair that with the Arab Spring and you'll get more stability out of a Jello mold on a hundred degree day. All we can do is sit back and watch the chaos we started and wonder why terrorists are blowing up spectators at a marathon.

By Motoman on 7/3/2013 3:54:30 PM , Rating: 5
Having done some work as a 3rd party for various government agencies in the past, I can firmly say that it's an absolute miracle that *anything* ever gets done. None of them are any better than the others - they all suck.

By Master Kenobi on 7/3/2013 5:13:50 PM , Rating: 4
My own first hand experiences mirror that as well. About 10% of the entire government makes the entire thing function, the other 90% is completely useless and typically an obstruction to getting things done.

By Dorkyman on 7/3/2013 9:16:44 PM , Rating: 2
And yet when some folks (mostly Repubs) try to shrink government, everyone yells and claims that it would be the End of Civilization.

Time for a real revolution me thinks.

By Master Kenobi on 7/4/2013 1:05:08 AM , Rating: 2
The only thing it would be the end of is steady paychecks for the unqualified and obsolete. Most of the useless individuals within the government are only employable flipping burgers or stocking shelves, they lack the skills necessary to actually perform other functions.

When you have a team of 10 individuals, only 1 or 2 of which are qualified to do the job, the rest simply gossip and look busy, yet will spend two months each year detailing how they've made such massively valuable contributions to the successes of whatever department/agency. The managers being largely no better simply rubber stamp this and move along.

We've been riding high on the wave of success from the 40's until now. Given time your going to see more ruthless and focused competitors overtake and replace us. China is (barring a breakdown in leadership) well on their way to doing just that. Our military power pales in comparison to what it once was and we have lost the ability to win wars decisively. We are unfortunately only a shadow of what we once were. The idealism, mindset, and desire to succeed have been lost since our peak. We're now on a slow but steady decline. It'll be another decade or two before we see a turnaround or an acceleration of that decline. It's sure exciting waiting to see which way we go.

By JediJeb on 7/5/2013 5:50:40 PM , Rating: 1
If you study ancient Greece or Rome you will see their governments did the same things we are doing now just before their collapse. Spend more money and effort on making the populace happy and softening every social rule to appease the fringe elements while fostering an attitude of dependence instead of self reliance, and you end up with a society that will crumble at the first real time of calamity. No matter how much power the central government has amassed at that point, it will not be able to sustain the weak society.

By roykahn on 7/3/2013 10:50:38 PM , Rating: 2
Traitor! You have disclosed classified information to the enemy and now must face US-style justice! Damn you high-tech terrorists.

By Motoman on 7/5/2013 12:27:22 PM , Rating: 2
The fact that our government is irrevocably retarded isn't exactly a state secret.

By Captain Orgazmo on 7/3/2013 7:02:51 PM , Rating: 3
It's just sad when you see how poorly run so many agencies/departments are.

Let me fix that:

It's just infuriating when you see how many agencies/departments there are.

-Considering the role of the federal government as per the Constitution is to provide National Defense, and Law and Order, and NOT all this other crap:

By Stuka on 7/3/2013 9:13:36 PM , Rating: 2

The ugly part is that you have to assume for every one frivolous program you know about, there are at least 10 you don't.

The Constitution is so last year. What do you have that's new? We need fresh ideas.

By Reclaimer77 on 7/3/2013 9:21:07 PM , Rating: 2
Yes, there's no such thing as "efficient" Government. Our Founders knew this, knew the only solution was to keep Government as small and unobtrusive as possible.

Sadly we've failed entirely at maintaining the small limited in scope Government concept.

By nick2000 on 7/3/2013 11:22:37 PM , Rating: 3
Our founding fathers were also not friends of big corporations, yet here we are. Interestingly, big corporations are not better than government at much so maybe the issue comes from the sheer size of bureaucracy more so than from public or private.
This brings us to the question of what size a proper government should be and what it should do? The founding fathers were only dealing with a very small country with barely any population (and much less voters). International relations were somewhat different considering how difficult and slow it was to travel.

By Reclaimer77 on 7/4/2013 1:20:29 AM , Rating: 2
This brings us to the question of what size a proper government should be and what it should do?

Well obviously it wasn't possible, and still isn't, to arbitrarily dictate "the size of the Government shall remain X". But ideally it would be just large enough to function as directed, with the rest of the job being handled by the States. Wealth redistribution on the national level is half our debt problem, and it's vastly Unconstitutional.

The Founders very clearly laid out the enumerated powers of the Government and Congress. Unfortunately Congress systematically abuses the Constitution's "welfare clause" to control our lives in ways that would have been an abomination to the Framers. Congress's companion tool to circumvent both the letter and spirit of the Constitution, the "commerce clause."

Interestingly, big corporations are not better than government at much

Can you quantify this? I would suggest that corporations are, like it or not, responsible for the high standard of living we all enjoy. Not the federal Government.

Also just on the surface, a Corporation is responsible for it's actions due to the profit motive. It can't print it's own money or tax every citizen. It has responsibilities and people it's answerable to. It cannot function indefinitely while racking up debt like our Government apparently can.

So obviously the private sector is far far more efficient than the Government. That's an axiom

By testerguy on 7/4/2013 7:00:46 AM , Rating: 3
An unusually intelligent comment from you. +1

By retrospooty on 7/4/2013 2:03:23 PM , Rating: 2
Why is it that even when you agree with a post that makes sense, you still come off like a complete and total asshat?

By inperfectdarkness on 7/4/2013 6:43:49 AM , Rating: 3
I've been screaming that for years. Yet the 1st thing that people want to put on the chopping block--each time the budget comes under review--is national defense.

Now I'm not saying that there's no fraud, waste and abuse within the DOD, nor that it shouldn't come under review. I just dislike how it's always thrown out there as the first place to axe--when it is explicitly one of the constitutional justifications for a national government.

I challenge any American liberal to cite where the US constitution charges the US federal government with the following responsibilities:

1. subsidizing mortgages
2. bailing out improperly run businesses
3. obamacare
4. no child left behind
5. cash for clunkers

I'll stop at 5, but I think I've made my point.

By espaghetti on 7/4/2013 12:09:20 PM , Rating: 2
The legislative branch amends to it.
The larger problem is that we keep sending "representatives" and that would rather pad their bank accounts than represent it's people.
Not to mention every other elected official.

By JediJeb on 7/5/2013 5:58:03 PM , Rating: 1
If we could do away with the Department of Education and let our teachers actually teach our children about the Constitution and how our government is run by the people and is not some ethereal all knowing entity, then maybe we would have a citizenship who could elect representatives who would actually represent them.

By PerrinAybara162 on 7/6/2013 2:06:02 PM , Rating: 2
then maybe we would have a citizenship who could elect representatives who would actually represent them.

The problem is not so much that we are not informed, its that we do not actually have a choice. Take for example the last election. We had a choice of either Obama, who had proven that he had very little interest in getting things done, and Romney who made no effort to hide that he had no interest in the needs and wants of the average American citizen. We are not electing our choice of officials, we are told who to vote for based on party lines and who our party of choice decides on.

Teaching the populace will not fix that issue, it will just make us cognizant of it. And that is the single largest problem that this country is facing, and one that neither party is making the faintest effort to address.

By Argon18 on 7/8/2013 12:37:07 PM , Rating: 2
Interesting how not too long ago, all of pop-culture media was eager to "Blame Bush" for the failings of any individual agency.

But now we have Chairman Obama, blameless and faultless and perfect, so any failures must be the fault of the individual agencies.

The fact is, government is wasteful and inefficient. Always has been. It isn't something new. The only new thing is the Internet and Social Media, which accelerates the speed at which we learn of these inefficiencies and wastes.

But it is curious how pop culture and media spin and twist things to suit their own purposes.

"Nowadays you can buy a CPU cheaper than the CPU fan." -- Unnamed AMD executive

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