Astroturfing has no place in modern public relations or public affairs
Propaganda has no place in modern public affairs or public relations. Astroturfing should be called out in the strongest terms.
Lobbying firm CTF has allegedly run social media campaigns on behalf of its clients that appeared to originate from grassroot activities.
Jim Waterson writing in The Guardian highlights dark Facebook Pages that CTF has run on behalf of the Airbus, Canary Wharf Group and the Saudi government.
Community building on Facebook is often used by brands and organisations as a means of building support for a campaign. Transparency is critical to avoid claims of conflict of interest.
Facebook provides tools to target and amplify content. It has been widely criticised for the propagation of misinformation on the platform most recently in a report on fake news by the Parliamentary Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee.
The CIPR Code of Conduct states that members should never deliberately concealing the practitioner’s role as representative of a client or employer.
The PRCA also calls for transparency. Its Code of Conduct calls on members to declare the interest of any organisation with which they may be professionally concerned is adequately declared.
CTF’s alleged use of Facebook isn’t illegal but it is unethical. It corrodes trust and pollutes public discourse. We should call this out in the strongest possible terms.