Appendix A: The Pfizer Influencer Disinformation Operation
The report this appendix accompanies was published in The Startup in May 2021.
The Case of the Pfizer Pay-for-Say Disinformation Operation
A London-based PR agency that traces back to Moscow offered European influencers cash to attack brand name vaccines. A London-based PR agency is offering French influencers cash to launder disinformation about the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines. 1 Information laundering is when the source of information is concealed by the messenger, like when US outlets publish stories for foreign state-controlled media outlets.
The TikTok anti-protesting campaign
An earlier instance, similar to the pay-for-say, Pfizer disinformation campaign, was reported in Russia. TikTok users reported being offered money to discourage people from protesting the wrongful imprisonment of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny.
A TikTok video detailing the instructions for what to post, hashtags to use, payment amounts, and how long the payment would take.
1 Credit for information collection and analysis to Charlie Haynes
2 Credit to Numerama for information collection.
3 Credit to Cathy for information collection.
4 Credit for the find to @ariehkovler