Taken from: iPolitics
Natural Resources Canada says it wasn’t buying “fake likes” or “followers” for its Facebook pages when it spent $5,000 on a social media campaign last fall.
That comes after MPs skirmished in question period over whether the federal department wasted money buying thousands of dollars worth of Facebook ‘likes’.
Documents tabled in the House of Commons Monday said the department forked over $5,000 last fall to purchase 3,611 Facebook ‘likes’ for two pages the department manages for Energy Star Canada, a federally-administered certification program for energy efficiency in products, homes and facilities.
Conservative MP Dan Albas brought up the expense during question period Tuesday afternoon, slamming the government for spending taxpayers’ money on Facebook ‘likes’ rather than helping vulnerable Canadians.
“Instead of actually helping Canadians, we see the Minister of Natural Resources buying 3,600 Facebook likes for $5,000,” he said. “Does the Minister of Natural Resources believe that $5,000 is better spent purchasing Facebook likes than on helping vulnerable Canadians?”
Innovation, Science and Economic Development Minister Navdeep Bains replied that the government has been “focused on the economy,” and launched into his own partisan jabs.
Late Tuesday, after the dust had settled, a spokesperson for Natural Resources Canada said in an email the figures shown in the document detail an advertising campaign where the government was charged based on the number of ‘likes’ the pages received.
“Fees paid to Facebook during the campaign were based on the number of ‘likes’ and ‘URL clicks’ by users,” Catherine Leroux said in an email.
“NRCan did not purchase fake likes or followers.”
She said the ad campaign promoted the Energy Star program, and improved the department’s “ability to disseminate valuable energy efficiency information directly to consumers on a long-term basis.”
Natural Resources had provided the spending figures in response to an order paper question submitted by Conservative MP Harold Albrecht.
He specifically asked how much money federal departments and agencies and Crown corporations had spent on purchasing Facebook ‘likes’ between Jan. 1, 2016 and Feb. 12, 2018 – the day when he filed the research question.
The documents suggested that during a two-week period straddling late October and early November, Natural Resources spent $3,500 for 2,668 ‘likes’ for the English page, which as of Tuesday afternoon, boasted a total of 12,780 ‘likes.’
The department dished out $1,500 to top up the less popular French page with 943 ‘likes.’ As of today, exactly 1,900 Facebook users have given the French page a thumbs up.
All the other government departments and agencies reported they did not purchase any Facebook ‘likes’ in the two-year time period.