The Long Tail of Influence Operations: A Case Study on News Front

Published: February 5, 2021
Author: Elise Thomas

This case study examines two websites and two blogging accounts which appear to be linked to News Front, a Crimean-based news organisation previously accused of being a source of pro-Kremlin disinformation and influence operations. The sites and accounts shared stories and images in many cases identical to those published by News Front without attribution.

While the impact of the site’s activity is low, the case study provides a glimpse into the inner workings of the broader disinformation ecosystem, highlighting how particular pieces of content and narratives linked to pro-Kremlin influence can spread across the internet using multiple domains. More broadly, it sheds light on the long tail of state-linked online assets. The report shows how disinformation purveyors can use tactics like domain cloaking to avoid platform removals, suggesting a need for renewed thinking about effective forms of policy response for complex disinformation networks.

Elise Thomas is an OSINT Analyst at ISD, with a background in researching state-linked information operations, disinformation, conspiracy theories and the online dynamics of political movements

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