Snyder Cut campaign was fueled by fake bot accounts, Warner claims

AquamanWarner Bros.

The “Snyder Cut” campaign to release Zack Snyder’s Justice League was fueled and amplified by fake bot accounts, according to a new WarnerMedia report.

The original Justice League, released in 2017, was a disaster. Snyder had stepped away from the project after a family tragedy, at which point Joss Whedon was enlisted to finish the film. However, his carte blanche changes resulted in a DC team-up that was altogether disjointed; it was ugly, unfunny – despite its strained efforts to be – and embarrassing.

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Egged on by the director, a separate mythos started to spread regarding the “Snyder Cut”, supposedly his somewhat finished, unreleased version of the film. Many, especially his staunchest critics, believed it was a pipe dream – but it wasn’t.

On March 18, 2021, HBO Max released Zack Snyder’s Justice League, his four-hour superhero opus. After ignorance, doubt, and adversity, it was a success story for Snyder and the fans – but a new report has dismantled a seemingly earnest campaign.

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Snyder Cut army was amplified by online bots, report claims

The Snyder Cut campaign dominated social media – or “Film Twitter”, if you will – for years. Any posts vaguely associated with Warner Bros. were swarmed by #ReleaseTheSnyderCut hashtags. Videos speculating over the cut and heralding its release months before it was even confirmed were uploaded daily.

It wasn’t until March 19 that Snyder confirmed his cut existed at all, then posting teases online like, “Is it real? Does it exist? Of course it does.” This only escalated the campaign, almost like it was designed to spike the demand to breaking point.

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As covered by Rolling Stone, two reports commissioned by WarnerMedia estimate that at least 13% of accounts that took part in the Snyder Cut campaign were fake, “well above the 3-5% that cyber experts say they typically see on any trending topic.”

This echoes Twitter’s public filings, which estimate the number of “false or spam” accounts on a daily basis to be less than 5%.

Snyder Cut campaign linked to ad agency

Rolling Stone also cited the findings of Aletha Group, which linked the domain – a site that claimed to be responsible for #ReleaseTheSnyderCut going viral – to a defunct ad agency that offered “cheap, instant Avatar traffic to your website.” 

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One unnamed digital marketing executive said the movement was “weaponized” by the use of bot accounts, pointing towards the drop in tweets following the film’s release, only for other hashtags to emerge calling for Warner Bros. to greenlight Snyder’s extended universe.

“Just look at the drop[that hashtag was] trending at a million tweets a day for when they wanted to release the Snyder Cut. And it dropped down to 40,000 within days. You don’t see a drop like that organically,” they told the outlet.

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Snyder Cut campaign was negative towards WarnerMedia, report finds

As detailed by the outlet, the report states that analysts “detected an increase in negative activity created by both real and fake authors” after investigating the various Snyder Cut trends.

It continues: “One identified community was made up of real and fake authors that spread negative content about WarnerMedia for not restoring the ‘SnyderVerse.’

“Additionally, three main leaders were identified within the authors scanned on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram – one leader on each platform. These leaders received the highest amount of engagement and have many followers, which gives them the ability to influence public opinion,” it added, noting how these “leaders” also pushed the #BoycottWarnerBros hashtag.

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One insider accused Snyder’s online behavior of stoking the fire, such as posting film canisters supposedly containing his director’s cut. “This was just more orchestrated bullsh*t from Zack,” they said.

Another source compared Snyder to Lex Luthor “wreaking havoc”, while the director claimed Warner Bros. was “trying to leverage my fan base to bolster subscribers to their new streaming service.”

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