Facebook names Navy, Marines, Palin as stars in 2010

Informal survey asked Facebook group members for input

The Navy, Marine Corps and former Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin had banner years on Facebook in 2010, according to an informal survey of pre-selected Facebook users and social media experts published by Facebook’s Washington, D.C. office.

The Environmental Protection Agency, Veterans Affairs Department and the Disability.gov website also got high marks in the unscientific “Best Use of Facebook 2010 Politics and Government” study.

The survey was based primarily on public postings on Facebook group walls seeking comments. About 220 comments were posted publicly and summarized in an article published on the Facebook DC page on Dec. 29.


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Last Dec. 28, Facebook D.C. asked social media experts and fans of three Facebook sites — Congress on Facebook, U.S. Politics on Facebook and Government on Facebook — to offer their views on the best use of Facebook by politicians and government agencies in 2010. Approximately 220 people commented on the walls of those groups, and the results were announced in a Facebook Wall posting on Dec. 29.

The Navy’s Facebook pages won acclaim due to 24-hour operation, use of interactive questions, regular responses to Wall comments by users, and photo contests, and the Marine Corps stood out for having a large number of fans, the company said.

Palin also ranked high among the people who responded to the survey, primarily for having large numbers of Facebook fans. Another politician who received mention was new Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) known for posting an explanation on Facebook of every vote he cast in the Michigan state legislature before coming to Washington.

The article also noted Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) incoming chairman of the House Budget Committee, and Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) who were commended for frequent Facebook postings providing informative updates on their legislative activities, and several other politicians.

The survey is getting attention on the Web but also taking some heat, with a few comments tweeted and posted on blogs criticizing its casual approach as more like a popularity contest than a meaningful study. Several of the survey winners as cited by Facebook DC have large numbers of fans, including Palin, with 2.5 million, the Marine Corps, with 950,000 and the Navy, with about 250,000.

“Any serious look into the ‘best use’ has to be objective, with some sort of standard,” a commentator wrote on the Government and Social Media Wiki on Dec. 31. “Nothing of the sort is presented to the reader here."

Andrew Noyes, manager of public policy communications for Facebook DC, defended the company's approach today.

"It absolutely was an informal survey, and we didn't mean it as anything other than that," Noyes said. "We thought it would be most authentic to ask the fans of the [Facebook] pages what they thought."

Facebook has had a presence in D.C. since 2007. The office manages outreach to Congress and the federal government and maintains its own Facebook page.


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