Threat Analysis Group’s (TAG) mission is to understand and counter serious threats, including actors engaged in coordinated information operations (IO). Today, in connection with the release of the TAG Bulletin, we are sharing year-in-review insights for 2022 about DRAGONBRIDGE, the most prolific IO actor TAG tracks. DRAGONBRIDGE, also known as “Spamouflage Dragon,” is a spammy influence network linked to China that has a presence across multiple platforms.
Most DRAGONBRIDGE activity is low quality content without a political message, populated across many channels and blogs. However, a small fraction of DRAGONBRIDGE accounts also post about current events with messaging that pushes pro-China views. DRAGONBRIDGE narratives in 2022 spanned a wide range of news topics — ranging from China’s Covid-19 response to the war in Ukraine — and included a higher volume of content critical of the US. The actor has primarily targeted Chinese speakers, but some narratives were in English and other languages.
In 2022, Google disrupted over 50,000 instances of DRAGONBRIDGE activity across YouTube, Blogger, and AdSense, reflecting our continued focus on this actor and success in scaling our detection efforts across Google products. We have terminated over 100,000 DRAGONBRIDGE accounts in the IO network’s lifetime. Despite their scale and profuse content production, DRAGONBRIDGE achieved practically no organic engagement from real viewers — in 2022, the majority of DRAGONBRIDGE channels had 0 subscribers when Google disrupted them, and over 80% of DRAGONBRIDGE videos had fewer than 100 views. Engagement for DRAGONBRIDGE’s blogs on Blogger was also low, with nearly 95% receiving 10 or fewer views for blogs terminated in December.