State Department officials spent $630,000 to get more Facebook “likes,” prompting employees to complain to a government watchdog that the bureau was “buying fans” in social media, the agency’s inspector general says.
The department’s Bureau of International Information Programs spent the money to increase its “likes” count between 2011 and March 2013.
“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,” the inspector general reported.
The spending increased the bureau’s English-language Facebook page likes from 100,000 to more than 2 million and to 450,000 on Facebook’s foreign-language pages.
In September 2012 Facebook also changed its approach to users’ news feeds, and the expensive “fan” campaigns became much less valuable. The bureau now must constantly pay for sponsored ads to keep its content visible even to people who have already liked its pages.
This was Hillary Clinton’s State Department. But what difference does that make?