SAWT BEIRUT INTERNATIONAL

| 29 September 2021, Wednesday |

Russia-linked company paid Youtubers to spread vaccine death disinformation: Media

Youtube influencers exposed a plot to spread vaccine disinformation by a company with links to Russia, as detailed in a BBC report.

A marketing agency called Fazze contacted German Youtuber and journalist Mirko Drotschmann with an offer to promote what it claimed was leaked information suggesting the death rate for the Pfizer vaccine was three times higher than that of the AstraZeneca inoculation.

The company also offered French science vlogger Léo Grasset $2,350 (2,000 Euros) to promote the same false material, insisting that he did not reveal it was a paid promotion.

Both of the influencers feigned interest in the offers in order to glean more information.

They eventually concluded that it was a plot to spread disinformation.

After they exposed the company online, all of the articles they were sent to promote vanished from the web – apart from an article published by French daily Le Monde.

The Le Monde article was about a data leak from the European Medicines Agency but did not contain any information about vaccine deaths.

While Grasset and Drotschmann did not take up the offers, German journalist Daniel Laufer has identified two influencers who may have.

Indian Youtuber Ashkar Techy and Brazilian prankster Everson Zoio posted uncharacteristic videos spreading the same message as the Fazze campaign.

Both deleted the videos after being contacted by Laufer, and did not respond to the BBC’s requests for comment.

Fazze is a part of a company called AdNow, a digital marketing agency registered in Russia and the UK.

The company’s British director Ewan Tolladay told the BBC he had little to do with Fazze and said the company’s UK operations would be shut down in light of the scandal.

He could not reveal the identity of the client who contracted the company to spread the disinformation. The BBC was unable to contact the Russian side of AdNow.

Russian companies have been linked to online disinformation campaigns in the past, including the Internet Research Agency that created a fake leftwing publication with fictitious authors to stir up discord in the US.