Youtubers denounce fake news campaign against Pfizer’s vaccine

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Jean-Francois Monier / AFP

According to the Brazilian press, a marketing agency has tried to get digital influencers from around the world to share misinformation about covid-19 vaccines.

The denunciation was made by some of the digital influencers who received the proposal and decided to denounce the marketing agency, writes the BBC.

“It all started with an email”, told Mirko Drotschmann, a youtuber and German journalist, in statements to the publication.

As a rule, Drotschmann ignores the offers he receives from various brands, which ask him to share products with his more than 1.5 million followers. But in May of this year, he received a proposal unlike any other.

A marketing agency, called Fazze, asked him to share false information, which suggested that the death rate among people receiving the Pfizer vaccine was nearly three times that of those vaccinated with the AstraZeneca vaccine.

In France, the complaint was made by Leo Grasset, a youtuber to whom the agency offered two thousand euros to share the information “of a client who wanted to remain anonymous”.

“It’s a big indication that something was wrong“Sisse Grasset.

Both Grasset and Drotschmann were outraged and decided to feign interest in the proposal to find out what was behind it.

In unnatural English, they were then given a briefing instructing them to act. as if they had “passion and interest in this topic”.

The document also asked not to mention that the video had a sponsor and that pretend they were simply giving spontaneous advice — despite the fact that various social networks have rules that prohibit the non-disclosure that the content is sponsored.

Out of context data

In addition, Fazze’s instructions called for influencers to share a story from the French newspaper The world about a leak from the European Medicines Agency — the leak was true, but the text didn’t talk about death rates.

The “information” that influencers would have to share was actually a mix made from different sources and taken out of context. The number of people who died in various countries some time after having received different vaccines against covid-19, for example, was one. since it was unrelated with the vaccine itself, but with external factors.

In the countries where the statistics came from, more people had received the Pfizer vaccine and therefore more people would be expected to die after the Pfizer vaccine than any other vaccine — whose doses had been taken by fewer people.

Influencers too received a list of links to share with followers, which included dubious articles that all used the same set of numbers that supposedly showed the Pfizer vaccine was dangerous.

When Grasset and Drotschmann exposed the Fazze campaign on Twitter, all articles except the report from The world, disappeared from the internet.

However, at least four other influencers from France and Germany have publicly revealed that they also rejected Fazze’s proposal.

But German journalist Daniel Laufer identified some who may have accepted the offer.

It is the case of Ashkar Techy, an Indian youtuber, and from Everson Zoio, a Brazilian youtuber who published a video — later deleted — in which he raised doubts about the safety of Pfizer’s vaccine.

Zoio has more than three million followers on Instagram, where the video about Pfizer was published, and 12.8 million on YouTube.

Both YouTubers published videos in which they conveyed the same message as Fazze’s campaign, sharing also fake news links that were in the instructions sent by the agency.

A BBC had access to the video published by Zoio: “Guys, I’m making this video here to pass on some information I have about vaccination, you know?”, he asked.

“There are some things that make me very thoughtful. I was looking at some articles and I came across something really worrying”, he said before sharing the “data” on the mortality rate of people inoculated with Pfizer’s vaccine, which would be “three times higher than that of AstraZeneca”.

“It gets to be something illogical and really worrying, don’t you agree? We have to keep ourselves well informed because in the end we are the ones who will benefit or even harm from all of this”, he continued.

After Daniel Laufer contacted them, Everson Zoio and Ashkar Techy removed the videos but did not respond to questions.