Political Economy of Covert Influence Operations in the 2022 Philippine Elections

This report investigates the political economy of covert influence in the 2022 Philippine Elections, with a focus on social media influencers involved in covert political campaigning.

This interdisciplinary research (1) examines political influencers and peripheral actors in the field engaged in political campaigning using qualitative field research methods, (2) maps and evaluates evidence of their participation in covert influence operations through computational social science methods, and (3) estimates political spending on the presumed commissioned influencers through economic modeling.

The research is the first empirical work to produce an assembly of data-informed approximations of the scope and scale of the political economy of covert influence operations. Specifically, it is the first to estimate the economic ‘cost’ of commissioned influencers for electoral influence operations in the Philippines.

The report is authored by Filipino researchers Fatima Gaw, Jon Benedik A. Bunquin, Samuel I. Cabbuag, Jose Mari H. Lanuza, Noreen H. Sapalo, and Al-Habbyel B. Yusoph.

This study is funded by Internews under its Six-Track Engagement Against Disinformation Initiative (STEAD-i).