Opposition leader Adrian Delia has urged ministers to refund taxpayers’ money they had used to promote posts on their personal Facebook pages.
“Taxpayers money being used to promote the personal pages of Labour Ministers. Daylight robbery. Pay back the money to the people NOW! #RobbedAgain.” Delia tweeted.
— Adrian Delia (@adriandeliapn) May 7, 2020
Earlier today, Standards in Public Life Commissioner George Hyzler revealed that the government had agreed that ministers should stop using public funds to boost posts on their personal pages.
The practice has been rampant in recent years, with Lovin Malta revealing in 2018 that millions in taxpayers’ money is being paid to Facebook to ensure posts on ministers’ profiles reach as many people as possible.
Following a request by Lovin Malta’s CEO Chris Peregin, Standards in Public Life Commissioner George Hyzler launched an investigation into the practice.
He found widespread abuse, with ministers and parliamentary sectaries often producing videos solely for their personal Facebook pages, with the use of ministry logos strongly suggesting public funds were used.
Some of these videos also included the minister’s personal logo, blurring the lines between their roles as members of the executive and as politicians.
“It is difficult to escape the conclusion that the production of videos in this manner is a thinly-disguised means for a minister to promote himself and to raise his political profile at public expense,” Hyzler wrote.
The government has since agreed on new guidelines determining what kind of posts should be posted on ministers’ personal profiles and what should be posted on official ministry profiles.
A major change is that any content which has been produced using public funds or resources must only be published on official ministry profiles.
In June 2019, there were fourteen ministries in total, out of which only four – the Office of the Prime Minister, the Ministry for Education and Employment, the Ministry for Energy and Water Management and the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and Trade Promotion, had active Facebook pages.
In January 2020, following the appointment of a new Cabinet, the situation remained similar.