Russia-linked PR firm asked social media influencers to spread doubts about vaccines

Coronavirus COVID-19

A PUBLIC RELATIONS FIRM with alleged links to Russia offered to pay French and German social media influencers if they published content casting doubts on the safety of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. The allegations about the firm’s efforts were made on Twitter and on French websites, and later appeared in Britain’s Guardian newspaper.

According to the reports, French and German social media bloggers and influencers who are active on YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, and other social media platforms, were contacted last week by a public relations firm. The firm is called Fazze. It claims to be based in London and describes itself as an “influencer marketing platform […] connecting bloggers and advertisers”.

In an email sent to social media influencers, Fazze reportedly asked them to post information that draws attention to “the death rate among the vaccinated with Pfizer which is almost 3x higher than the vaccinated by AstraZeneca” [sic]. The email from Fazze also reportedly asked the social media influencers to draw attention to a leaked report that supposedly questions the safety of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. The report, published recently by French newspaper Le Monde, is based on an internal document that was stolen by Russian hackers from the European Medicines Agency and was later posted on the Dark Web. The document contains no evidence of the supposed danger of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. However, it has become the basis of anti-vaccine conspiracies on social media in Europe and the United States.

The social media influencers were encouraged to tell their audiences that the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is “dangerous to the health of the people” and to question why “governments [are] actively purchasing” this vaccine. They were also instructed to “act like you have the passion and interest in this topic” [sic] and to present the material “as your own independent view”. When asked, Fazze reportedly refused to identify its client, but said that its budget for the project was “considerable” and invited the social media influencers to name “the rate you wish” for their financial compensation.

The company claimed to be based at 5 Percy Street in London, but it is not registered there, according to the Guardian. The British paper also claimed that the company’s management “come from Moscow and have worked for an agency reportedly founded by a Russian entrepreneur”.

Author: Ian Allen | Date: 27 May 2021 | Permalink

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