Reddit banned nearly a thousand accounts linked to the same Russian troll farm accused of election meddling on Facebook

  • Reddit CEO Steve Huffman announced Tuesday that the site discovered and banned 944 accounts linked to the same Russian troll farm that has been accused of attempting to meddle with the 2016 election on Facebook.
  • The vast majority of the banned accounts had little or no Reddit “karma,” indicating low engagement with other users.
  • The announcement came during Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s testimony before a Senate committee in reaction to the recent scandal involving Cambridge Analytica and the use of user data in targeted advertising.

While Mark Zuckerberg testified before the Senate Tuesday in the wake of his company’s entanglement with Cambridge Analytica, Reddit CEO Steve Huffman announced that the forum-based site had discovered and banned nearly a thousand accounts run by the same Russian trolls that were accused of attempting to sway political opinions on Facebook through politically charged advertising, fake news, and other posts.

“We know the success of Reddit is dependent on your trust” said Huffman, username “spez” in Tuesday’s announcement, posted to Reddit. “We hope continue to build on that by communicating openly with you about these subjects, now and in the future.”

A total of 944 suspicious accounts linked to the notorious Russian troll factory, Internet Research Agency, were discovered and banned by Reddit, which has chosen to give users a chance to see the Russian-affiliated content for themselves, by providing a link to a full list of the suspicious accounts, including their full content history. The accounts will be fully removed from Reddit “after a period of time,” according to Huffman.

Just last week, Facebook announced that it had removed 70 Facebook accounts, 138 Facebook pages, and 65 Instagram profiles linked to the same Russian organisation.

Karma points for trolls

Of the 944 suspicious accounts, Huffman said that only a few “had a visible impact on the site,” as measured by their varying levels of engagement with other users (something Reddit quantifies with “karma” points). Huffman wrote that 70 per cent of the suspicious accounts (662) had zero karma, meaning no meaningful engagement (upvotes or downvotes) from other users, while about one per cent of the accounts (13) had a karma score of more than 10,000, indicating that they reached and interacted with many Reddit users by posting and commenting on the site.

“Of the 282 accounts with non-zero karma, more than half (145) were banned prior to the start of this investigation through our routine Trust & Safety practices” said Huffman in the announcement, referring to an internal investigation that began last month, in response to “recent reports about the integrity of Reddit” regarding the scope of Russian election influence on various social media platforms, according to a previous announcement.

“All of these bans took place before the 2016 election and in fact, all but 8 of them took place back in 2015,” Huffman said.

This latest data comes with the release of Reddit’s annual transparency report, which outlines several ways that Reddit has complied with the government’s investigation into Russian election meddling and other abuses of the platform.

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