One reason vaxx disinformation is so prevalent is that there’s a lot of money in it:
In May, several French and German social media influencers received a strange proposal.
A London-based public relations agency wanted to pay them to promote messages on behalf of a client. A polished three-page document detailed what to say and on which platforms to say it.
But it asked the influencers to push not beauty products or vacation packages, as is typical, but falsehoods tarring Pfizer-BioNTech’s Covid-19 vaccine. Stranger still, the agency, Fazze, claimed a London address where there is no evidence any such company exists.
Some recipients posted screenshots of the offer. Exposed, Fazze scrubbed its social media accounts. That same week, Brazilian and Indian influencers posted videos echoing Fazze’s script to hundreds of thousands of viewers.
The scheme appears to be part of a secretive industry that security analysts and American officials say is exploding in scale: disinformation for hire.
Private firms, straddling traditional marketing and the shadow world of geopolitical influence operations, are selling services once conducted principally by intelligence agencies.
They sow discord, meddle in elections, seed false narratives and push viral conspiracies, mostly on social media. And they offer clients something precious: deniability.
Disinformation for profit is hardly new, but as accelerated by social media it’s become critical to a lot of political and social unraveling.