When Zack Snyder's Justice League — the massive, four-hour director's cut of Zack Snyder's version of the 2017 film Justice League — was released on HBO Max in 2021, it seemed like a huge victory for online fan campaigns. After all, Snyder fans had been calling for the release of the so-called "Snyder Cut" almost from the release of Justice League, a film that had infamously been finished (with some major changes) by Joss Whedon after Snyder stepped away from the project. And over time, the #ReleaseTheSnyderCut hashtag started going viral, not just once but numerous times as did various other calls to action connected to the campaign. Now, however, a report from Warner Bros. says that the massive online support for the "Snyder Cut" movement was fueled, in part, by bots and inauthentic accounts.
According to the report (via Rolling Stone), at least 13 percent of the accounts that were part of the Snyder Cut conversation online were fake. By contrast, the average number of fake accounts that usually are found in any trending topic comes in at around three to five percent and Twitter's own public findings estimates the daily active accounts on the site that are "false or spam" is less than five percent. What that means is that, while there are indeed a large number of genuine Snyder fans on the social medial platform, those fans are amplified by a large and disproportionate number of fake accounts or bots.
While the idea that fake accounts and bots could amplify a social media campaign leading is itself a bit troubling, so are the findings of the report that the social media movement also spawned "negative activity" from both real and fake accounts — including threats against executives and others.
"After researching online conversations about the Snyder Cut of the Justice League's release, specifically the hashtags 'ReleaseTheSnyderCut' and 'RestoreTheSnyderVerse' on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, [the analysts] detected an increase in negative activity created by both real and fake authors," the report concluded. "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."
The report also noted that some were spreading "harmful content" about Ann Sarnoff "with the majority of authors calling her a liar for the claim that there is no Snyder Cut of the movie and called for Warner Media to fire her. These authors also started using the hashtag 'BoycottWarnerBros.'"
Currently, the Snyder Cut campaign continues, just with a different aim. The movement now uses the #RestoreTheSnyderVerse hashtag as part of an effort to pressure Warner Bros. to continue plans Snyder originally had for the DCEU. As for Snyder, he is now making films with Netflix, including Army of the Dead.25comments