‘Russia’s propaganda operation is flailing worldwide’ as Twitter cracks down on astroturfing: report
Kremlin photo of Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin talking on the phone.

Russian President Vladimir Putin seems to have overestimated his ability to control the narrative over his invasion of Ukraine, according to a new report by NBC News.

"Russia's propaganda operation is flailing worldwide. It doesn't appear like it had a plan for the war not being over with by now," NBC News reporter Ben Collins posted to Twitter. "Russian propaganda just didn't have a plan for the war going this badly. I've been covering it for years and have never seen them caught this far off guard."

Collins' analysis came after he and Natasha Korecki reported that "Twitter has banned more than 100 accounts that pushed the pro-Russian hashtag #IStandWithPutin for participating in 'coordinated inauthentic behavior,' days after the hashtag trended on Twitter amid the invasion in Ukraine."

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The two said the inauthentic activity was discovered by Marc Owen Jones, an assistant professor at Hamad Bin Khalifa University in Qatar.

“People throw the term bots around a lot, but what we saw here was lots of accounts demonstrating inauthentic activity and astroturfing,” Jones said. “They’re not bots. They’re a lot harder to check than that. Imagine a call center setup. Think of the amount of damage you can do.”

The report comes as Russia blocked Facebook in the country.

Andrew Gonzalez, an analyst with the digital analysis firm Omelas says it may be too late for Putin to shift the sympathy for Ukraine.

“Russia isn’t getting the same impact of its audiences as it historically has gotten,” Gonzalez said. “The audience is certainly believing more so the Western portrayal that it’s a tragedy for Ukraine and Russia is the aggressor. That narrative is quite firm right now.”