U.S. State Department Blew $630,000 on Facebook "Likes"
July 3, 2013 12:32 PM
(Source: Getty Images)
Meanwhile federal agency shuts down "America.gov" as keeping it up was "too expensive"
Kazoos, Nerf footballs
internet 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"
, Inc.'s (
) 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
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'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 America.gov
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.
State Department IG via Scribd
"We can't expect users to use common sense. That would eliminate the need for all sorts of legislation, committees, oversight and lawyers." -- Christopher Jennings
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