A DC PR firm faked news to promote coups
CLS’s fake news network undermined democracy and the right to information in Bolivia, Venezuela and Mexico. Sign this petition demanding transparency, accountability and restitution.
It is unacceptable that your firm was engaged in a disinformation operation, spreading fake news with fake Facebook and Instagram accounts, in Bolivia, Venezuela and Mexico. The Washington Post reported that those fake accounts were used “to secretly manipulate politics” in the aforementioned countries. Manipulating politics through disinformation erodes democracy and constitutes interference in the domestic affairs of other countries.
In a press release after Facebook deactivated those accounts, CLS Strategies states that it has launched an internal investigation and placed the head of its Latin America division on leave. This is not enough.
The work done by CLS aided a Bolivian coup government implicated in mass human rights violations, Venezuelan opposition figures involved in violent uprisings and a Mexican opposition that has elements which have openly plotted a coup. As people throughout the country and hemisphere who care deeply about Bolivia, Venezuela and Mexico, we insist on the following:
Transparency: The internal investigation aided by law firm Latham and Watkins must be released to the public. This investigation should include a breakdown of the social reach and influence that the CLS propaganda network had, a full accounting of who financed these operations, and a full accounting of all the propaganda efforts that CLS engaged in (including Twitter and, if any, traditional media outlets).
Accountability: Everyone involved in this propaganda network must be fired.
Restitution: CLS Strategies should donate $3.6 million (equal to the amount spent on advertising on Facebook) to independent and grassroots media in Bolivia, Venezuela and Mexico in an effort to overcome the harm caused by the fake news network.
Only by taking all three of these steps can CLS Strategies begin to rehabilitate its image.