When Reddit released its annual transparency report today, it came with an unusual addendum: a list of 944 accounts that the site’s leadership believes were operated by the Internet Research Agency, a group that spread propaganda on behalf of the Russian government during the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
Reddit also posted a list of the accounts that its internal investigation has connected to the election meddling attempts. Many of the accounts were unpopular or barely used, but thirteen accounts accumulated more than 10,000 karma points, which are awarded by other Reddit users to content and comments they like.
Those influential thirteen all posted divisive material — some in favor of Donald Trump, some in favor of Bernie Sanders, and much critical of Hillary Clinton. Some sprinkled in overtly racist content or innocuous posts about cute animals, and at least one posted a fake Hillary Clinton sex tape.
An account called rubinjer, for instance, made a number of overtly racist posts that racked up tens of thousands of upvotes — which give content visibility on Reddit — on forums including the pro-Donald Trump subreddit The_Donald. A post labeled “When you’re white but you stole your first bike,” for instance, shows what appears to be a white hand with a black material on its fingers.
Other accounts posted material that was political in tone but less racist. An account called shomyo, for one, posted links to articles about police brutality and government torture to subreddits about news and conspiracy theories.
Reddit left the accounts online, but marked each with a prominent message noting that they’ve been banned and left up for purposes of transparency. The report didn’t note how the accounts were identified. Many were deactivated months ago, but some were still posting as recently as the past week.
By releasing the list of account names and leaving the posts they made online, Reddit set itself apart from Facebook and Twitter. Both platforms have admitted that they’ve removed content they suspect was posted by Russian operatives, but neither have voluntarily released a list of the accounts that posted it (though a list of profiles that Twitter provided to Congress was leaked by NBC News.)
Reddit’s experiment is similar to that of microblogging platform Tumblr, which informed users it believed had interacted with material linked to Russian election interference, but left the content online for archival purposes.
All the mega-popular accounts are listed below:
- u/Maineylops, 12783 karma
- u/Maxwel_Terry, 14869 karma
- u/DeusXYX, 15541 karma
- u/MasiusShadowshaper, 16279 karma
- u/MargasGranidor, 18313 karma
- u/Peter_Hurst, 20830 karma
- u/erivmalazilkree, 21971 karma
- u/King_Andersons, 27144 karma
- u/BerskyN, 32979 karma
- u/WhatImDoindHere, 33095 karma
- u/Kevin_Milner, 42752 karma
- u/shomyo, 48619 karma
- u/rubinjer, 99493 karma