I’ve long been fascinated by the business of manufacturing popularity, which has become much easier thanks to the Internet. It’s very easy to cook up favorable reviews for an item, create zillions of phony Twitter followers, and otherwise create the illusion that people, products, and ideas are much more popular than they actually are.
I’m also keenly interested in tales of crazy government waste, so this story is right up my alley: Hillary Clinton’s scandal-plagued State Department wasted $630,000 of our hard-earned tax money buying ersatz “likes” on Facebook to make itself look popular. And they did it wrong.
From Foreign Policy online:
Between 2011 and March 2013, the department’s Bureau of the International Information Programs, tried to boost the seeming popularity of the department’s Facebook properties by advertising and page improvements. But the results weren’t so good, leaving the Inspector General with no choice but to send a frank message to the bureau’s Facebook gurus: You’re doing it wrong.
“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,” reads the Inspector General report.
Ultimately, the spending was successful in artificially increasing apparent popularity of the bureau’s English-language Facebook page from 100,000 likes to 2 million. But the IG said the bureau’s target audience is older, more influential individuals; not the kind of people who spend hours online liking government Facebook pages, in other words. “What is the proper balance between engaging young people and marginalized groups versus elites and opinion leaders?” asks the IG report. It also didn’t help that in 2012 Facebook tweaked the mechanics of its News Feed, making static fan pages less prominent in users’ feeds.
Another triumph for Hillary Clinton! Add this to the cloud of long-suppressed scandals bubbling out of her department, and the impending demise of the regime she and Barack Obama worked so hard to install in Egypt, and their triumph in Benghazi… that’s quite a presidential resume for Mrs. Clinton! Or is the outrageous waste of taxpayer funds on pumping up Facebook page stats supposed to be yet another thing the comatose Clinton didn’t know about?
It’s also grimly amusing to read the Inspector General criticizing the State Department for wasting money through overlapping and redundant offices and programs, plus an dash of the “cronyism” that has come to define the Obama Administration:
Some of the issues are rather tedious, like whether embassy staffers should go to the Office of Web Engagement or the Office of Innovative Engagement for advice on social media. A section of the report is devoted to telling employees, hey, the “Office of Innovative Engagement is the proper place for this function.”
Then there’s the issue of “overlapping” Farsi outreach efforts. Apparently, both IIP and the Bureau of Near Eastern Affiars have Persian-language Facebook and Twitter accounts. “It is not efficient for the Department to have competing Persian-language Facebook and Twitter sites,” reads the report. It suggests NEA take the lead given its closeness to actual “policymakers.”
Remember all this when Democrats saddle up to defend their irresponsible spending by insisting that not an ounce of fat can be trimmed from this ridiculously bloated government, so spending cuts mean cops and teachers hitting the unemployment lines.