The July 24, 2013, offer of the company “Leadway Media Solutions” to Bulgarian MEP Iliyana Yotova, from the group of the Party of European Socialists (PES), for online reputation management proposes the use of internet trolls against 1 500 levs (€ 750) per month excluding VAT. Against this amount, a team of four experts is to take care of the virtual presence of Yotova in forums and social networks; to respond to public concerns; to provoke, create and maintain new themes and discussions on topics related to the political activity of Iliyana Yotova.
The package includes the following: “Monthly posting online of 250 comments by virtual users with varied, typical and evolving profiles from different (non-recurring) IP addresses to inform, promote, balance or counteract. The intensity of the provided online presence will be adequately distributed and will correspond to the political situation in the country.”
An earlier investigation of Bivol showed that Yotova has used the services of Leadway and has even invoiced them to the European Parliament. She did not deny her relationship with Leadway, but made up another reason for the invoice to the EP – fictitious research that she promised to announce to the media, but that did not happen.
In the document below, Leadway proposes a “comments campaign – 150 / month on Facebook, 50 / month in Twitter and 50 / month in forums.” The offer is for a period of 10 months.
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The financial parameters, listed in this proposal, are as follows:
“The value of the proposed package is 1 500 levs per month excluding VAT and includes the work of a team of 4 (3 + 1) experts on the activities comprised in our Proposal for online reputation management and support of public communication in social networks and in online media of Ms. Iliyana Yotova and covering, without being listed here exhaustively:
Research and analysis of existing online activity associated with Ms. Iliyana Yotova in internet sites, forums and blogs with the goal of Definition and proposals for response according to the snapshot situation of public attitudes integrated into a Communication strategy developed to optimally exploit the opportunities and the instruments of social media before and during the election campaign for the European Parliament;
Communicating of generated by us and, if desired, coordinated messages to target groups in the form of Monthly posting online of 250 comments by virtual users with varied, typical and evolving profiles from different (non-recurring) IP addresses to inform, promote, balance or counteract. The intensity of the provided online presence will be adequately distributed and will correspond to the political situation in the country.
Fan groups and pages maintained in social networks (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube) in accordance with the integrated election communication strategy; Active involvement in and management of already started forums of and in the interest of Ms. Iliyana Yotova;
Provoking, creating and maintaining new themes and discussions on topics related to the political activity of Iliyana Yotova – economic and social, or in connection with crises emerging as result of her political activity during the election campaign;
The full file (in Bulgarian) can be downloaded here.
The European Parliament – Mission “Blur”
The European Parliament flatly refused to provide Yotova’s invoice to Bivol. It turned out that this most democratic institution is totally non-transparent regarding the so -called “general expenses” of MEPs, which amount to the impressive 18 000 euros per month. Citizens do not have the right to know what their money is spent for. Reproachable and even criminal acts may be invoiced to the European Parliament and this will never be revealed to the public if there is no leak of information.
The scandal with the trolls showed that Yotova has paid precisely with this unaccountable money. This will eventually be proved in black and white as Bivol will immediately refer the case to the newly formed budget committee in the next European Parliament with a request for a parliamentary inquiry.
Not a Single Bulgarian MEP Publishes Reports on Costs
The non-transparent expenses of MEPs have long been a subject of debate in Europe. Most of the European Greens and some Liberals publish detailed accounts of all amounts over 25 euros, but there is no such mass practice. A check of Bivol showed that no Bulgarian MEP has bothered to publish reports. However, many of them talked about “transparency” during the European elections campaign.
Trolls – Left and Right
Two months ago, Bivol exposed both the left-wing Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) and the right-wing Democrats for Strong Bulgaria (DSB) in using trolls. BSP denied, while DSB admitted that they had used the services of Leadway. Radan Kanev’s party (DSB) refused to provide reports on the trolling, citing company secret. Bivol requested this type of information under the Access to Public Information Act (APIA) and never received a response from DSB.
The result of the scandal is that BSP will be referred to the prosecution over the origin of the funds it has used to pay Leadway under the table for the trolling. DSB will have to face the Administrative Court for tacit refusal under APIA and for the concealment of tax records, which are also proof of the financial machinations of BSP.
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