- At least 13% of SnyderVerse fandom accounts are fake, Rolling Stone's Tatiana Siegel reported.
- That's much higher than the usual 3% to 5% normally seen with trending topics, per Rolling Stone.
- The findings suggest that the SnyderVerse was manipulated, though it's not clear by whom.
At least 13% of the social-media accounts that pushed for the release of the "Snyder Cut" were fake — far higher than the 3 to 5% of fake personas typically seen on trending topics, Rolling Stone's Tatiana Siegel reported.
Since roughly 2018, a growing online movement had demanded the release of director Zack Snyder's version — nicknamed the "Snyder Cut" — of the superhero film "Justice League."
WarnerMedia launched an investigation into fan-trolling related to the film after an edited image of three studio executives' decapitated heads went viral in January 2021, Rolling Stone reported. The outlet obtained two reports WarnerMedia had commissioned to investigate the online movement.
The main report from that third-party investigation found a glut of "negative activity created by both real and fake authors" involving the hashtags #ReleaseTheSnyderCut and #RestoreTheSnyderVerse, per Rolling Stone.
Rolling Stone contacted two social-media tracking companies, Q5id and Graphika, both of which found inauthentic activity coming from SnyderVerse fans. While many stans of the "Snyder Cut" were real people, their numbers were boosted by an unusually large number of faux accounts, Siegel wrote.
One of the loudest proponents for the "Snyder Cut," a website called "ForSnyderCut.com," was registered under the CEO of a Los Angeles-based digital advertising company called MyAdGency, which is now defunct but described itself as a provider of "cheap, instant Avatar traffic to your website," the outlet found.
Some accounts on Twitter also appeared to exist with the sole purpose of spamming WarnerMedia social-media accounts in support of Snyder while criticizing the studio, one data analyst from Graphika told the outlet.
Snyder's cut of the "Justice League" was released on the HBO Max streaming service in March 2021, and received praise from fans and critics, who viewed it as a restoration of the much-panned original "Justice League" released in 2017.
But the ferocity of the SnyderVerse fandom and its threats has elicited serious concern from WarnerMedia, including CEO Ann Sarnoff, who called fans' behavior "unacceptable" and "reprehensible no matter what franchise you're talking about."
Some media outlets, such as Time Magazine, have noted that rewarding toxic fandoms with what they want could prove dangerous for the film industry.
Online fandoms and memes have become increasingly influential in the film industry, as evident in cases such as the "Gentleminions" meme, which involved formally dressed teenagers attending screenings of the film "Minions: Rise of Gru" as a joke.
Another viral meme, "Morbillions," saw people online pretend to form a cult following around the widely criticized movie "Morbius." In the wake of the meme's success, Sony re-released the film — only for it to flop once more.