iFood would have hired an agency to silence strikes using fakes on Facebook – Tecnoblog

iFood reportedly paid two digital marketing companies to infiltrate app delivery strikes. Furthermore, according to an investigation by the Public Agency, the agencies also created fake profiles on Facebook and Twitter to try to deflate labor claims and manipulate the public debate about stoppages by motorcyclists. The fake pages, controlled by advertising companies, pretended to be workers in the category and had no apparent connection with the delivery platform.

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Stoppage of iFood, Rappi and Uber Eats delivery people in São Paulo (Photo: Roberto Parizotti/Public Photos - 01/07/20)
Stoppage of iFood, Rappi and Uber Eats delivery people in São Paulo (Photo: Roberto Parizotti / Public Photos)

Documents, reports and photos of chats obtained by Public Agency reveal that iFood hired two digital advertising agencies, Benjamim Comunicação and Social Qi (SQi), to carry out campaigns sabotaging strikes and manipulating the public debate on improving working conditions for motoboys.

According to reports from people who participated in these campaigns, the objective was to simulate posts with the language used by delivery people, as if they had been written by someone who provides the service. “You post memes, jokes and videos that promote a brand or idea, but without showing who is behind it. Without signing,” he explained to Public Agency a source linked to strategy. “It’s that kind of content that leaves you in doubt: you don’t know if it was a meme, something that appeared on the internet or if there was someone behind it”.

Benjamim and SQi monitored courier strikes between July 2020 and at least November 2021, according to the report. During this period, agencies would have produced content for social networks in favor of priority vaccination of iFood delivery people. According to documents obtained by the Public Agencythe platform’s public policy department would have been responsible for hiring marketing agencies.

The fake pages created at the request of iFood

One of the pages created shortly after the most famous strike by couriers — “Breque dos Apps” — is called “Não Breca Meu Trampo”. In the first weeks following stoppages by motoboys, the account focused on accusing the movement of politically aligning itself with leftist agendas. Afterwards, Não Breca Meu Trampo began to attack bills that regulated the delivery activity in Brazil.

As of January 2021, the SQi agency will take control of the strategy and Não Breca meu Trampo. In addition to maintaining engagement through posts on the old page, a new one with a more humorous nature was created, with meme publications praising the work of motoboys and topics of interest to the category. It is called Garfo na Caveira and is still active today, with almost 50 thousand likes — the last post was made just nine hours before the publication of this article.

Latest post from Fork in the Skull (Image: Reproduction)
Latest post from Fork in the Skull (Image: Reproduction)

“The orientation was to make content that was funny, that generated engagement. I could speak ill of Rappi or Uber Eats, but not of iFood”, commented a person who provided services to SQi and Benjamin. According to her, the posts would be made based on monitoring reports from Twitter and Facebook, as well as from groups of couriers on WhatsApp. The SQi team reportedly infiltrated 15 group chats and analyzed more than 19,000 messages.

By June 2021, the Não Breca Meu Trampo and Garfo na Caveira pages would have been viewed by 3.16 million people with all 181 posts created. SQi reached more than 21,000 followers in the period, according to a report presented to the advertising agency’s clients.

Marketing agencies created fake profiles on Twitter

Not satisfied with creating pages to simulate motoboys, agencies used fake profiles and nano-influencers to comment on posts supporting courier strikes.

On Twitter, for example, a user named MiiFerreira6 responded to 23 tweets about the #ApagãodosApps campaign, an initiative by couriers against precarious work. The speech was the same in all cases: defending delivery platforms claiming that the stoppage was not good for delivery people.

The account is still active and most interactions on Twitter are praising iFood. According to information from Public AgencyMiiFerreira6’s tweets had been written, reviewed and approved in a posting schedule produced by advertising agencies.

Another four fake accounts were used by marketing agencies to try to simulate responses from couriers against the strikes.

Employee infiltrated delivery strikes

Finally, marketing agencies were able to infiltrate app delivery strikes face-to-face. In an April 2021 walkout, while a strike was being held in front of the Pacaembu stadium in São Paulo, SQi sent an employee to monitor the demonstration.

The SQi employee’s mission was to guide priority vaccination for delivery people, without making it clear that iFood was behind the action. Pretending to be a gas station attendant, the infiltrator even held up a sign that read “Vaccina pros (sic) app deliverers now”, and distributed stickers with that phrase. The action was considered a success by the advertising agency hired by the main delivery platform in Brazil.

Other side

In a note to Public Agency, iFood said that its performance on social networks does not condone with fake profiles or the use of robots to generate fake engagements. The delivery company claims that it hires agencies like Benjamim, specialized in opinion research, communication campaigns and monitoring on social networks.

SQi said, in response to the report by Agência Pública, that it presented a proposal to Benjamim on the creation of engagement “around the regulatory framework” for the delivery market in Brazil. However, it was not approved by the agency and therefore was not carried out.

Benjamin also claims that SQi’s proposal was not carried out as a strategy for iFood. The digital marketing company says it doesn’t agree with the creation of fake profiles and lies, the use of bots and the purchase of followers. The agency says it carries out two activities “within the legality”.

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