Malta’s Health Ministry has finally launched its official Facebook page, with Deputy Prime Minister Chris Fearne becoming the first Cabinet member to fall in line with social media guidelines since they were introduced by the Standards Commissioner in a critical report.
saħħa has already begun sharing content on its page, with Fearne using his personal platform to promote the content and direct thousands of followers to the newly-created page. Fearne’s personal page has also stopped producing its own ministerial content.
Following a request from Lovin Malta, Commissioner for Standards in Public Life George Hyzler published a report which flagged the rampant use of public funds and resources to produce content specifically for ministers’ personal Facebook pages. In some instances, the content would be boosted on their pages to reach a wider audience.
A 2018 analysis by Lovin Malta revealed that millions in taxpayers’ money were being paid to Facebook to ensure posts on ministers’ profiles reach as many people as possible.
The issued raised questions as to whether public funds and resources were being used in the public interest or for personal and political gain.
Only 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 accounts by the time Hyzler published his report.
The Health Ministry was one of 13 ministries which were ordered to create their official Facebook pages. It is the first to fall in line with government measures launched during Hyzler’s investigation.
A social media transition can be an arduous task, especially given the current COVID-19 crisis, so delays from other ministries are to be expected.
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