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 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.

"Google fired a shot heard 'round the world, and now a second American company has answered the call to defend the rights of the Chinese people." -- Rep. Christopher H. Smith (R-N.J.)

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