We’ve already seen companies like Facebook and Twitter get cooked pretty good from lawmakers on how their platforms were used to influence the last US presidential election, but one of those companies has been rather quiet as of late. The company in question, Reddit, has been quiet, but in a post today, they shared some information about what’s been uncovered.
In the post, Reddit CEO Steve Huffman shared some of the company’s findings during its investigation. Huffman says that one of the main reasons why they’ve been quiet is because the investigation is ongoing, but now is sharing findings regarding ads, direct propaganda from Russians and indirect propaganda spread by Reddit users.
Speaking of ads, Huffman says the company hasn’t found many ads that are originating from Russia before or after the election. Currently, all ads from Russia are entirely blocked. Talking about direct propaganda, Reddit’s investigation ended up uncovering few hundred accounts that have already been removed. “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,” Huffman added.
Speaking about indirect propaganda, this appears to have had the biggest impact across Reddit and is the most difficult issue to address. As an example, Huffman uses the Twitter account @TEN_GOP, which was uncovered to be run by Russian individuals. “@TEN_GOP’s Tweets were amplified by thousands of Reddit users, and sadly, from everything we can tell, these users are mostly American, and appear to be unwittingly promoting Russian propaganda,” he wrote. “I believe the biggest risk we face as Americans is our own ability to discern reality from nonsense, and this is a burden we all bear.”
That’s just one example though and Huffman didn’t provide any others. At this time, it’s hard to determine how big of an impact Reddit had during the election and spreading of content pushed by Russian agents. Huffman added that the company is still investigating the issue and working with Congress on this. “While I know it’s frustrating that we don’t share everything we know publicly,” he says, “I want to reiterate that we take these matters very seriously, and we are cooperating with congressional inquiries.”