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

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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?

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