Facebook

Norwegian authorities have spent from zero to more than 200,000 kroner (24,800 U.S. dollars) in the last three years for published posts on Facebook website, newspaper Aftenposten reported Sunday.

Norwegian researchers believe this amount will increase.

“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.

The ministries told Aftenposten that the most sponsored posts were job advertisements, and after that campaigns promotion. There were, for example, posts on stricter asylum regulations in Norway, as well as content about flu vaccine and antibiotic resistance.

On Facebook there are also examples of sponsored content that show the prime minister in conversation with a patient who is pleased with the government’s policy.

“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.

She also expressed uncertainty about whether the state should pay for information that not everyone has access to, as Facebook makes sure that information only reaches certain target groups.
Media researcher Bente Kalsnes pointed out that this practice of government announcing has consequences for traditional media that are losing money.

“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’s Head of Communication, Trude Maseide, said that the ministries follow their own guidelines from 2016. These, according to her, “allow ministries to consider sponsorship of matters that are important general information, campaigns, events or advertising budgets, such as those for job advertisements.”

In other types of cases, judgments are made by using common sense, but sponsorship should not be used on purely political matters, Maseide added. Enditem

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