Case studies

Case Study: Exposing Nepotism in Foreign Countries

Our client was an NGO operating in Asia wishing to expose political malfeasance and injustices targeted to a specific region.

Our client was working to expose government level actors who were using their political status for personal gain targeting businesses operating in the country.

There were several actors working across several states, each nationalizing properties for their country. The properties were corporate or private lands, which they then awarded via deed ownership to family members.

The Need for Stealth

Our client didn't wish to be targeted by the government officials, and understandably so. They made the request to be associated at a distance, in order to protect themselves. To accomplish the task with a minimal amount of overt involvement, we manufactured bloggers to post stories so that no identifiable profiles were attached to the content.

We developed several personas for the blog content for the sake of anonymity. It is our belief that fabricating users to protect real individuals is well within our ethics.

Challenges

The execution of the reputation project needed to be carried out in three Asian languages. The population in the areas required us to do so, and the problem needed to be brought to the attention of several political decision makers in those areas.

We were able to protect the owners and developers by creating several websites in multiple languages, each dedicated to publishing the information surrounding the problem. In an extra attempt to avoid detection and political entanglements, much of the work was done by bouncing content through a number of proxies.

Targeting Leadership

Our primary targets were government leaders and their families who profited from the corruption. We worked with local third-party news outlets to cite our stories and link to them in order to improve their rankings in search results.

The objective was to expose the problem in order to cause change by making companies and people think twice about investing in the target country. We sought to cause discussion between the bad actors and their peers in government as to the wisdom of continuing the practice.

Through the combined efforts with our client, the search results for the government actors we targeted were dramatically changed. The search results for the businesses and families that had benefited from the wrongdoing were especially reformed into a more accurate picture that included the political injustice.

Media exposure to the problems increased in multiple languages and regions. With media exposure came searches for the names of the international actors involved. Our work, in conjunction with our clients, helped reduce the problem significantly.