(Liz Klimas) The concept of “buying friends” has taken on a whole new meaning in the realm of social media, and according to a new report, it appears even the U.S. State Department has shelled out a few hundred thousand dollars to up its own social popularity.
According to a May report from the Office of the Inspector General, the department’s Bureau of International Information Programs spent about $630,000 on two Facebook campaigns to increase its number of followers on English-language Facebook pages.
The campaigns were successful garnering more than 2 million new followers for each page — up from 100,000 — and it also increased following on foreign-language pages.
But those within the bureau questioned this practice, according to the report.
“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. Defenders of advertising point to the difficulty of finding a page on Facebook with a general search and the need to use ads to increase visibility,” the report stated.