The Cyber Front Z army, a viral so-called ‘people’s movement’, is just another troll farm being used to boost Russian propaganda on mainstream social media, as seen by recent ISD research. ISD analyst and Russia expert Julia Smirnova features in this article by VICE News explaining how the “army’s” Telegram channel makes it seem that this is a grassroots movement by openly posting directions on how to boost pro-Kremlin content, when in reality the content is being boosted by for-profit trolls.
“The Cyber Front Z channel openly calls on its ‘supporters’ to write comments under specific posts—mostly by Russian citizens and organizations that oppose the war—probably to create an impression that those comments are written by people who genuinely support Cyber Front and not by trolls who are paid by the state or one of the pro-Kremlin oligarchs. However, the [St. Petersburg–based media outlet] Fontanka investigation makes it clear that this is a classic troll factory, with people being paid for the comments.”
According to the article, the channel is claiming to be combatting disinformation coming from Ukraine and the West by pushing their accounts of the “special operation”, while encouraging Russians to comment on those labelled as enemies because it is their patriotic duty to support their military.
Julia Smirnova is an Analyst at ISD and ISD Germany, focusing on proliferation of disinformation, conspiracy myths, hate speech and extremist ideologies online.