State Department Spends $630,000 For ‘Likes’ On Facebook

Image via Flickr/ sofiabudapest

Social media is confusing for a lot of large organizations.

What recently happened with one of the largest organizations of them all, the United States Government, is an example. In an effort to become liked more, the State Department Bureau of International Information Programs, spent $630,000 from March 2011-13 buying “likes” on Facebook. I can’t imagine what the person was thinking that came up with the idea, “If we want to become liked, we could simply buy likes!”

Liking something isn’t a commodity, but on Facebook, it can be misinterpreted as one. People make quick assumptions that a page’s likes determines its importance. On the surface, this concept would make sense; after all, if 50,000 people liked this page, it must have some sort of attraction. The next step an individual would do would be to like the page as well. Human beings are social creatures — we want to be included in things. Seeing someone with a large following creates an illusion of credibility.

Likes on Facebook are Mirage

Likes on Facebook are more so a marketing tool than an actual measurement of how people really feel about something. Since Facebook “likes” are not something verifiable — anyone can “like” a page, even a bot — it is simply nothing more than numbers on a screen. For the State Department to spend $630,000 on increasing its likeability is not that surprising to me. Politics is about creating a favorable image, so spending other people’s money (i.e., tax dollars) to buy “likes” on Facebook is the State Dept’s attempt to try and “use” social media in a way that gives them an advantage.

This is one of the saddest things that is happening on social media. Last year, Facebook revealed that 8.7 percent, or roughly 83 million, of Facebook accounts are fake.