US media reported in 2020 on the potential use of so-called “Zombie sites,” the use of long-dormant websites for disinformation purposes. According to the Daily Beast, such sites were being used for Russia-linked disinformation:
October 31, 2020 For users of the nascent internet of the late-90s and early-2000s, it was a much simpler time. Text-based web design. Pixelated graphics. Dancing babies and hamsters. Remember those lame attempts by corporations to make website tie-ins to popular products or movies? (Space Jam, anyone?) Captured by the digital novelty of it all, you might have even made a first clunky website of your very own. Well, many of those early websites have lived a long life in the first two decades of the digital age, but have evolved; others have stayed the same. Famously, the original site promoting the classic duo of Michael Jordan and Bugs Bunny is still going strong—an unchanged monument to mid-90s nostalgia that Rolling Stone once called “The Website that Wouldn’t Die.” But what of the early websites that lived a short, grainy life and did die, abandoned by their creators as associated businesses and products folded? While most of those early websites have been buried in the graveyard of digital history, purveyors of disinformation working to game search engine optimization have exhumed some of these sites, cleaned them up, and weaponized them. This appears to now include peddlers of Russian disinformation narratives, who have reanimated moldering sites as rudimentary propaganda platforms.
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