Your tax dollars at work: State Dept blows $630K on Facebook Likes

Your tax dollars at work: State Dept blows $630K on Facebook Likes

Summary: There's just nothing about this story that's going to make you feel good. Sorry.

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TOPICS: Government US
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Here we go again. Government officials spending other peoples' money on idiotic endeavors. This time, a supposedly forward-thinking operation inside the United States Department of State decided to blow a ton of cash on scoring Facebook Likes.

Seriously. And it gets worse.

Our story begins with a Foreign Policy post stating that the Bureau of International Information Programs (IIP) paid for advertising and other programs to try to boost the number of Facebook Likes over the course of about two years, from 2011 to March 2013.

They did manage to inflate their Facebook page's Likes count from about 100,000 to over 2 million, but, according to a 57-page report from the State Department's own inspector general, the Likes didn't increase engagement, and reached an audience that's not really part of the IIP's charter.

While you're being annoyed at the cash dumped down this particular toilet, think about how much it cost to do a 57-page analysis of the program. We don't have any data on that, but I'm betting it wasn't cheap.

Oh, and while we're being unamused, here's a fun little tidbit: Apparently, IIP also used to run the America.gov website. Not anymore. Now, if you go to America.gov (A-frickin-merica-dot-frickin-gov), you get this message:

america.gov
(Image courtesy of the United States government and your tax dollars at work.)

It just makes me want to cry. Want one more thing to may you feel all warm and fuzzy? The title tag of the America.gov page says "Engaging the World". You can't make this stuff up.

Topic: Government US

About

David Gewirtz, Distinguished Lecturer at CBS Interactive, is an author, U.S. policy advisor, and computer scientist. He is featured in the History Channel special The President's Book of Secrets and is a member of the National Press Club.

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Talkback

16 comments
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  • Why did this happen?

    You vote for big government, you get big government, period. The bigger the government the bigger the evil. The smaller the government, the lesser the evil.

    Get it?

    Why do we applaud when government courtesans role out their newest program designed to "help" people.
    Relayer
    • Are you possibly an anarchist?

      To take your post to its logical conclusion, the best possible government is none at all. Of course, anarchy leads to a power vacuum, which leads to new governments (usually headed by warlords).
      John L. Ries
      • Smaller Govt...

        We're talking about degrees. Yes, we need government. No, we don't need a bloated monstrosity like the one we've had for a few generations. In all things, moderation.
        neverhome
        • Hard to argue with that one

          I don't think you'll find a lot of unabashed statists in this forum. The question is where the lines should be drawn.
          John L. Ries
    • Why?

      Why do you hate poor people so much? And minorities? And the sick? And the elderly? And everyone who is not like you? Probably because you are racits, rich, and greedy like all the rest of the tea baggers.
      HackerJ
      • Not hating anybody

        "I am for doing good to the poor, but I differ in opinion of the means. I think the best way of doing good to the poor, is not making them easy in poverty, but leading or driving them out of it. In my youth I traveled much, and I observed in different countries, that the more public provisions were made for the poor, the less they provided for themselves, and of course became poorer. And, on the contrary, the less was done for them, the more they did for themselves, and became richer."

        ~Benjamin Franklin, 1766
        WozNotWoz
        • Keeping the poor... Poor

          That's what our government is great at. Less intervention in most cases is best. Helping the poor help themselves is one thing- horribly executed public programs is just plain ridiculous.

          Keep the governments grubby little misfit mitts off your hard earned cash by any means possible (and legal, even if you have to engage in accounting gymnastics!)is the only way to keep from being ripped off.

          Don't like the way the gov. Spends? Then don't give them a damn red cent passage little item sales tax, if you can manage it is what I say.
          Teila Day
      • "Probably because you are racits, rich, and greedy like all the rest of th

        "Probably because you are racits, rich, and greedy like all the rest of the tea baggers."
        LOL, racists... tea baggers. What a MORON.
        OH GOLLY, look at the name he took, Hacker. LOL, Capt. idiot at your service.
        .
        This dudes just a HATE-BAITER.
        .
        fm-usa
    • Why did this happen?

      Why do we applaud when government courtesans role out their newest program designed to "help" people.

      For a few reasons.
      Improves employment numbers. The people running these programs show up as "new jobs created" makes the gov look good. The fact that they don't actually do anything other then waste money doesn't enter into the calculation.
      Another, politicians are obligated to return the favors that got them elected. Create a program, hire these people, abracadabra, over paid government position for a flunky.
      Then comes the problem, all these air head flunkies trying to justify their existence, have to do something to keep their jobs and benefits.
      csumbler
  • Warlords?

    We got that already.
    Seditionist
  • criminy

    The same idiot can be in your small govt too. The real issue is humans and all they can do even when trying to do right.
    rjm56
    • Marketing overdose

      I'm trying to imagine how Jay Ward would have satirized the ubiquitous campaigns for Facebook likes.

      And remember that the conduct of foreign relations is a core governmental function. Reducing the scope of government wouldn't downsize the State Department very much.
      John L. Ries
  • Facebook

    State Dept probably not the only one to do so.
    dhays
  • Timing???

    Did this only come to an end because of sequestration? Timing is right and if that is correct, maybe just maybe, government (State) made the right choice and shut this waste down. Any one want to pull another $100M from their budget and we what other "savings" creeps out of Foggybottom.
    jerazor
  • US government is rich

    Is it rich? acturally it is the poorest gov in the world. Its debt is biggest, and it is running by borrowing money from it people and other countires.

    The thing you mentioned is one of the cause
    SmilingGuy
  • Comment? "ROFLMAO"

    I am sorry, but this is both hilarious and utterly pathetic. Look folks, these are the morons you elected. Each and every one of you is responsible for this. I hope you are proud of yourselves.

    Wow, if this was not so sad and ridiculous, it would be the funniest thing I have read in a while. It is absolutely clear to me, that small-minded selfish morons, who spend most of their time preening and squabbling about idiotic things, run most large corporations and government agencies. God help us all.
    Kieron Seymour-Howell