This post was updated on October 13, 2020.
The Americas Blog featured a post last week about the growing wave of election interference and misinformation campaigns sweeping Latin America, especially as a tool of right-wing governments and political movements. As these digital operations have grown in popularity, so has the market for firms to organize them. In particular, new details about the recent Latin American operations of a US public relations firm called CLS Strategies illustrate that Americans are not just on the receiving end of manipulative social media campaigns, but are participants in them as well.
There is a long history of “crisis public relations (PR)” firms taking contracts with foreign governments or opposition movements, lobbying on their behalf or otherwise helping them “improve their image” in Washington. But on September 1st, Facebook announced its removal of “55 Facebook accounts, 42 Pages and 36 Instagram accounts” which were linked to the DC-based CLS Strategies, the first time that such action has been taken against a US PR firm.
Originally published at https://cepr.net on October 5, 2020.