The Obama administration really wanted the Environmental Protection Agency's legally suspect Waters of the United States rule (the fuzzy-wuzzy named Clean Water Rule) to get a groundswell of public approval - so they used government employees and taxpayer money to blitz social media endorsing it.
That's called lobbying, and it is illegal for the government to lobby for the rule it bypassed lawmakers to enact. Not only did they break the law, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found, they engaged in “covert propaganda” because they did not disclose that the messages they were promoting across social media were written and foisted off by the same group engaging in the unprecedented power grab over state and city government.
“Clean water is important to me,” the Thunderclap flash mob message to 1.8 million true believers said. “I support EPA’s efforts to protect it for my health, my family, and my community.”
Obviously, when that got bounced all over the Internet, those with any knowledge of social media - such as an administration that used it to such great effect in 2008 - knew that any trace of the EPA being the origin of it would be lost, and it would look more like grassroots than the government astroturf it was.
The New York Times notes this is not the first time government has done it; Medicaid and Education have also been busted for it in the past. And Thomas Reynolds, who as communications director at the E.P.A. moved to add political campaign-style tactics to the agency’s public relations operation, has been rewarded with a nice move to the White House.
GAO: Obama Administration Broke Law Using Social Media To Promote Approval Of EPA Law