Influence-for-hire refers to the economy that has emerged around buying and selling influence on social media platforms.
Companies that engage in the influence-for-hire industry range from content farms to high end public relations agencies. Traditionally influence operations have largely been confined to public sector actors like intelligence agencies, in the influence-for-hire industry the groups conduction the operations are private with commerce being their primary consideration. However many of the clients in the influence-for-hire industry are countries or countries acting through proxies. They are often located in countries with less expensive digital labor.
In May 2021, Facebook took a Ukrainian influence-for-hire network offline. Facebook attributed the network to organizations and consultants linked to Ukrainian politicians including Andriy Derkach.
During the COVID-19 pandemic state sponsored misinformation was spread through influence-for-hire networks.
In August 2021, a report published by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute implicated the Chinese government and the ruling Chinese Communist Party in campaigns of online manipulation conducted against Australia and Taiwan using influence-for-hire.