- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Reddit, the fourth most-visited website in the U.S., has booted nearly 1,000 accounts believed to be run by the Internet Research Agency, the alleged Russian “troll farm” accused of exploiting social media networks including Facebook and Twitter during the suspected state-sponsored attack on the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

A total of 944 accounts have been identified by Reddit as being “of suspected Russian Internet Research Agency origin,” the site’s chief executive said in a post published in tandem with the release of its annual transparency report Tuesday.

All the suspicious accounts have been disabled, and their activity has been temporarily preserved and shared with congressional investigators examining Russia’s role in the 2016 race, Reddit co-founder and CEO Steve Huffmanwrote on the website.

Few of the nearly 1,000 accounts had any visible impact on Reddit, and none of them were linked to purchasing any adds like on other platforms, wrote Mr. Huffman. Some of the accounts were relatively popular, however, and combined they posted about 14,000 times before being identified and disabled, said Mr. Huffman.

Mr. Huffman previously said that only a “few hundred” likely IRA accounts had been identified and expunged as of early March as part of the website’s internal investigation

“We still have a lot of room to improve, and we intend to remain vigilant,” he said Tuesday.

The U.S. intelligence community has assessed that the Russian government interfered in the 2016 race, and the Department of Justice appointed special counsel Robert Mueller in May to investigate claims involving Moscow’s involvement. Mr. Mueller’s investigation has since culminated in criminal indictments charging companies and individuals in the U.S. and abroad, including the IRA, its accused mastermind, Kremlin-linked businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin, and a dozen other Russians connected to the company.

The IRA “conducted operations on social media platforms such as YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter,” according to the special counsel’s office, “… with the stated goal of ‘spread[ing] distrust towards the candidates and the political system in general.’”

Facebook has linked the IRA to content reached by about 126 million Americans surrounding the 2016 race, including about $100,000 worth of advertisements, and Google said the IRA investigated $4,700 into its ad network during the same span. Twitter, meanwhile, has said that about 1.4 million users engaged in some form or another with any of nearly 4,000 likely IRA accounts.

“We didn’t see any political ads from Russia during the election. Nevertheless, we no longer accept advertising from Russia at all,” said Mr. Huffman.

Reddit is ranked fourth nationally and sixth globally based on a combination of daily visitors and pageviews over the past month, according to Alexa, the Amazon-owned internet ranking service.

Four congressional panels are investigating the 2016 election separately from the special counsel’s office, including committees in both the House and Senate.


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