Reddit’s The_Donald is billed as the biggest Trump campaign rally on the internet, but the site for supporters of the American president was also a major target for Russian propaganda during the 2016 presidential campaign. It hasn’t stopped since then, a new analysis shows.
The link-sharing site was part of Russia’s campaign to spread disinformation and foment division among Americans during the 2016 election. Back in April, Reddit announced that it had identified and banned 944 different accounts with ties to Russia’s Internet Research Agency, the so-called “troll farm” where employees shared divisive content and some outright fake news. Reddit’s announcement came just days after Facebook announced that it eliminated more than 200 pages linked to the group.
The Trump-supporting subreddit The_Donald was a major target, with analysis showing that the @TEN_GOP Twitter account identified as Russian-controlled propaganda was shared hundreds of times on The_Donald.
The announcement garnered considerable attention at the time, with some calling on Reddit to testify before Congress as Facebook and Twitter had during investigations of Russian interference in the 2016 election. But despite the attention and scrutiny it faced at the time, The_Donald has quietly remained a target for Russian propaganda in the weeks and months that followed.
A new analysis shared on an anti-Trump subreddit found that a number of accounts started sharing a site on The_Donald called GEOTUS.us, which takes on a nickname popular among the users on The_Donald (which stands for “God Emperor of the United States). The user found that this site is registered in the United States, but actually redirects to another site called USAReally.com that is registered in Russia.
A deeper dig into this site reveals even more Russian connections. The site’s LinkedIn page showed that the site is run by Alexander Malkevich. As user corylulu wrote, Malkevich is “the guy that works for Yevgeny Prigozhin, the Russian billionaire known as ‘Putin’s chef’ currently under indictment by Robert Mueller for running the Russian troll farm Internet Research Agency (IRA).”
While this site has only a few links on The_Donald, the user noted that it is actually the latest iteration of a site called Brutalist.press, which has hundreds of links across Reddit, with The_Donald being a top target. The site targets politically divisive stories, mainly aimed at the American left.
Reddit Post About Russia-backed Misinformation Mysteriously Deleted, Prompting Outcry https://t.co/5ddy3Q2Cfo— ????️ The Daily Eye (@B_Sputnik) September 21, 2018
The analysis linking The_Donald to the Russian propaganda factory IRA has already garnered some national attention, including a report from Newsweek, but Reddit has yet to comment on the report.