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These zombie sites have been brought back to life to spew misinformation

For the nascent Internet users of the late 90s and early 2000s, it was a much simpler time. Text-based web design. Pixelated graphics. Dancing babies and hamsters. Remember the fledgling attempts by companies to link websites and popular products – say Coca-Cola – or movies – say the 1996 Warner Brothers feature, Space Jam? Captured by the digital novelty of it all, you might have even created your first goofy website.

Fast forward to the internet of 2020, where websites of all types are increasingly traded as the digital currency of the cross-platform social media age. Many of these early websites lived a long time during the first two decades of the digital age, but have evolved; others have remained the same. Famous, the original site promoting the classic duo of Michael Jordan and Bugs Bunny is still in full swing – an unchanged monument to mid-’90s nostalgia that Rolling Stone once called “The Website That Wouldn’t Die.” But what about the early websites that lived short, gritty lives and made die – abandoned by their creators as companies and related products retreated, and the human masses opted for the relative ease of hosting their web presence on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter? Indeed, most of these early websites were buried in the graveyard of digital history. But the misinformation providers working on game search engine optimization have dug up some of these sites, cleaned them up, and militarized them. This now appears to include the peddlers of Russian disinformation narratives, who have revived the mold sites as rudimentary propaganda platforms.

Simply put: welcome to the dawn of the era of zombie disinformation websites! While digital security and disinformation experts have focused on the proliferation of Russian bot and troll social media accounts in the wake of the Kremlin’s interference in the 2016 US presidential election, disinformation websites zombies have started hiding among the search results of legitimate search media platforms. engines. But with so many dubious sources of disinformation floating around cyberspace, what makes these sites of particular concern?

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