Reddit Confirms New Russian Meddling Efforts
CEO Steve Huffman said the site has detected nearly a thousand suspicious posts in recent months.
CREDIT: Lei Gong
In the wake of users' accusations that his site has been harboring Russian misinformation, Reddit CEO Steve Huffman admitted that suspicious accounts had indeed submitted nearly 1,000 posts to 130 different communities on the platform in recent months.
Huffman delivered the news during a Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) session Thursday, revealing that the company detected the new round of activity "a couple weeks ago." The users behind it were Russian, he wrote, though there was no technical evidence that they were affiliated with the Internet Research Agency, a Russian group infamous for its interference campaign during the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
Of the 953 posts that were found and deleted, 264 were made to Donald Trump's largest support community on Reddit, r/The_Donald, according to Huffman.
Huffman posted that in order to better detect and eliminate such content in the future, Reddit was building a team "specifically devoted to investigating efforts to manipulate our site." Reddit's Trust & Safety and Anti-Evil teams already work on finding and building technical solutions to stopping suspicious posts. A Reddit spokesperson said the team Huffman referred to is dealing in data science, under Anti-Evil.
The activity Reddit's team found is still tiny compared with that of other social platforms. In September, Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg admitted that his company had deleted 1 billion suspicious user accounts between March 2018 and the previous October. This year, Zuckerberg said, the company has doubled the number of people working on safety and security, from 10,000 to 20,000, as part of its efforts to beef up protections against election interference.
Twitter, which had exposed some 700,000 people to disinformation meant to sow discord prior to the 2016 election, is requiring advertisements on divisive issues to be clearly labeled as political advertisements in the lead-up to the 2018 midterms. The company is working with the FBI Foreign Influence Task Force and the Department of Homeland Security as the election approaches.
BY Amanda Pressner Kreuser