Somebody at the U.S. State Department must be feeling very lonely these days. The Washington Examiner reported that the department’s Bureau of International Information Programs spent $630,000 to increase the number of likes that its Facebook pages received.
The money was apparently spent on social media advertising campaigns designed to lure in fans. What this has to do with diplomacy and foreign relations is hard to determine.
If spending $630,000 on social media wasn’t bad enough, the State Department’s Office of the Inspector General spent even more money and time on a report on social media. The Inspector General discovered that the State Department has 150 social media accounts, and those accounts are uncoordinated. Right now, the State Department has 280,000 fans — but only 22,000 are ‘talking about’ it on Facebook.
The Inspector General also determined that the State Department has no strategy for social media. What this really means is that the Inspector General wants the State Department to invest several million of the taxpayers’ dollars on an organized social media effort. In other words, it wants to invest more money on something that is outside the State Department’s primary role of conducting relations with foreign governments.
State Department Propaganda
At issue is something called public diplomacy, a polite term for propaganda; in public diplomacy, the State Department tries to convince foreigners how wonderful America is. All the flag burning and anti-American protests overseas show what a wonderful job it is doing.
One would think the success of America’s democracy and capitalism, which even the most rabid anti-American protesters overseas want to imitate, would be the best advertisement for our nation. Not according to the bureaucrats at the State Department; they want to use more of our tax money on propaganda efforts that seem like those of the old Soviet Union.
Perhaps it is time to rethink the whole concept of public diplomacy and of the State Department itself. After all, do we really need this bloated bureaucracy when the President can talk to any foreign leader on Skype any time he wants to?
The State Department’s social media efforts seem like a classic case of an obsolete bureaucracy trying to justify its existence. If it wasn’t our tax money they were spending, these efforts would be a bit more funny.