Politicians are increasingly hiring private companies to spread disinformation online, according to researchers who found campaigns run by third-party contractors targeting 48 different countries over the past year.
The Oxford Internet Institute said the “disinformation-for-hire” market is booming, with advertising, marketing and public relations companies offering to manipulate online opinion for political parties and governments.
The OII said private contractors help to identify which groups to target with messages, and then “prompt the trending of certain political messages” either through fake accounts or with armies of bots, or automated accounts.
Researchers said they had found evidence of at least $60m of spending on such campaigns since 2009, although the real total may be far higher.
Researchers said they had found evidence of at least $60m of spending on disinformation campaigns since 2009, although the real total may be far higher https://t.co/NrzxWG0Yt3
— Financial Times (@FinancialTimes) January 13, 2021