In an effort to increase its social media presence, the Bureau of International Information Programs — part of the U.S. State Department — spent $630,000 to increase the number of 'likes' it had on its official Facebook page, according to a new report by the agency's inspector general.
The Washington Examiner reports that the whopping amount of cash was spent 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 Washington Examiner also reported that a small portion – 2 percent – of those who liked the pages were actively engaged by leaving comments or sharing the content with their own friends.
Spending more than a half-million dollars did have an effect on the page's popularity, though.
Likes on their English-language page increased from 100,000 to more than 2 million. Likes on their foreign language pages grew to 450,000.
Read more on the story from The Washington Examiner, and see the official report from the Department of State and the Broadcasting Board of Governors Office of Inspector General.
Editor's Note: The original version of this story posted on July 3, 2013, failed to properly attribute all source materials, which violates our editorial policies. The story was modified on Oct. 7, 2013, after we were alerted to the problem by iMedia Ethics.
Michael Smith is an intern in the news section of DeseretNews.com. A 2013 graduate of the University of Utah, he will be attending Northwestern's Medill School of Journalism in the fall.