The Kwai Tsing District Council has faced flak for spending a lot of money to create a social media platform to publicize its work.
The council established a Facebook page last month, aiming to step up a public relations campaign to enhance primary care and community health services in the district.
However, critics have charged the council with wasting public money after it was revealed that the expense incurred on the social media initiative amounted to more than HK$600,000, Ming Pao Daily reported.
The Facebook page is said to have cost HK$630,000 (US$81,252) to set up. The money came out of the HK$2.8 million budget allocated in total for the Kwai Tsing District Council’s propaganda budget.
To show that the expenditure was worth it, the council asked the Facebook page developer to collect a certain number of “Likes” from online visitors within 90 days.
But data shows that there were only 11,780 likes gathered as of Wednesday since the launch on July 24, with about 10,000 of them being added only over the past week.
Using a social media analytic tool, Ming Pao found that only 27 out of 9,803 likes were actually from Hong Kong, while 46 percent were from Taiwan.
During a work meeting on July 30, council member Eric Lam wondered if the webpage developer had been faking the number of likes.
He told Ming Pao that inflated numbers won’t do any good, and that he had asked the District Council to reveal the name of the contractor who had set up the Facebook page.
The council, meanwhile, said that no rules have been set as to where the likes should come from. However, it added that the contract specifies that no payment will be made to the developer if the number of likes does not meet its goal.
Francis Fong, chairman of the Hong Kong Association of Interactive Marketing, said it is wrong to buy “likes” and even more so if public money is involved.
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