According to a report published in the Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten, in the last three years, zero to more than 200,000 kroner (24,800 U.S. dollars) have bene spent by the Norwegian authorities in publishing posts on the social media Facebook.
According to researchers in the country, more money is likely to be spent.
“Sponsored content can be problematic, because the administration should not pay for what is defined as political message,” said Kjersti Thorbjornsrud, media researcher at the Institute for Social Research.
Job advertisements was the category of Facebook posts that were the most sponsored – followed by campaigns promotion, the ministries reportedly told Aftenposten. Facebook and website content related to flu vaccine and antibiotic resistance and posts on stricter asylum regulations in Norway were among the flurry of posts that were sponsored by the government.
Government sponsored posts on Facebook even carried a picture of the Norwegian prime minister talking to a patient and the patient is visibly pleased with the efforts of the government
“Paid content should be linked to neutral information, such as job advertisements. But then there is always a question of when a message gets political overtones, for example when the ministries sell a message that the government or a minister does something good. The question is where to set the limits for payment, which we have not discussed properly yet,” Thorbjornsrud said.
Because of the fact that the information through Facebook posts is able to reach only a limited number of users in the country, therefore questions about the judgement of the government about pay for information that would not possible be accessed by a significant section of the population not everyone has access to were raised by her.
And for the traditional media – most of which are witnessing reduction in advertisement revenues. This policy of the government making announcement through the digital medium, would be harmful according to media researcher Bente Kalsnes.
“In many businesses and organizations today, we see that advertising money that previously served as a form of media support is on its way to being transferred to social media and Silicon Valley companies. If the ministries do the same, this will also have consequences for the authorities’ media policy,” she said.
The government does not impose any guideline on the different ministries and since 2016, their own guidelines with relation to such postings and advertisement is decided to by the ministries themselves, said the Norwegian government’s Head of Communication, Trude Maseide. She said that this freedom “allow ministries to consider sponsorship of matters that are important general information, campaigns, events or advertising budgets, such as those for job advertisements.”
(Adapted from Xinhuanet.com)