Reddit has finally confirmed what many of its users have been warning for months — that the site was a haven for Russian propaganda, and the subreddit know nas The_Donald appeared to be leading the way.
In an announcement posted to the site on Monday, Reddit CEO Steve Huffman said that the site had identified and removed “a few hundred accounts” linked to Russian propaganda. Huffman admitted that many of these accounts had already been flagged and eliminated before and during the 2016 presidential election, but that some were still operating.
“We have found and removed a few hundred accounts, and of course, every account we find expands our search a little more,” Huffman wrote. “The vast majority of suspicious accounts we have found in the past months were banned back in 2015–2016 through our enhanced efforts to prevent abuse of the site generally.”
Other social media sites have already been pulled into the congressional investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election, with both Twitter and Facebook being identified as sites flooded with Russian money to purchase political ads. Reddit noted that it has never accepted money from Russia to buy ads, The Hill noted.
Huffman noted that most of the propaganda was found and shared by real users, and posted to subreddits like The_Donald, the site for admirers of President Donald Trump. A previous analysis had found that The_Donald, along with other far-right subreddits like HillaryForPrison, often shared links to Twitter pages later identified as belonging to Russian propagandists. Users noted that Russian propaganda was also prominent on subreddits intended for far-left voters with efforts to reach Bernie Sanders supporters.
Then came more evidence in the form of a report from theDaily Beast that found documents from a “Russian troll farm” that explicitly targeted Reddit as an avenue to share propaganda. This was the first time that Reddit was directly linked to Russian propaganda, though the site still did not publicly acknowledge or respond.
I mean, anyone who glanced into the Trump or Sanders subreddits could see this was widespread: https://t.co/ZZrmhzF6tS
— Chrisella Herzog (@Chrisella) March 5, 2018
Reddit has also come under fire for its failure to address the Russian propaganda on its site. The site did not respond to previous press reports about the Russian influence on the site, and users had been raising alarms for weeks before Huffman finally addressed users on Monday.