REDDIT IS the latest platform to admit that its users were unwitting pawns in Russian election propaganda.
A new blog post from CEO Steve Huffman admits that its users, mostly from the US, were spreading 'fake news' and other propaganda on the site.
It also confirms that although little or no advertising content from Russia has been found, it has all now been blocked for removal of doubt. In any case, Reddit's terms and conditions actually ban political advertising.
'A few hundred' accounts were found and removed during a general purge during 2015 into 2016, but there are more than likely many more. 'Direct' propaganda accounts, which are sending out propaganda is then ‘amplified' by foreign users, spreading it for the nation-state responsible as 'indirect' propaganda.
Huffman warns that more could well be discovered as the investigation remains live and although this is the most candid Reddit has been to date, he warns: "While transparency is important, we also want to be careful to not tip our hand too much while we are investigating."
He warns that this ‘indirect' or ‘soft' propaganda is difficult to completely solve and relies on a bit of common sense.
"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," he adds. Which vaguely sounds like he's suggesting Americans are dumb, but that couldn't possibly be the case.
"I wish there was a solution as simple as banning all propaganda, but it's not that easy. Between truth and fiction are a thousand shades of grey. It's up to all of us—Redditors, citizens, journalists—to work through these issues," he added.
"It's somewhat ironic, but I actually believe what we're going through right now will actually reinvigorate Americans to be more vigilant, hold ourselves to higher standards of discourse, and fight back against propaganda, whether foreign or not."
And when an account, the only one mentioned by name - @TEN_GOP - is such a red rag to a bull (GOP or ‘Grand Old Party' is a reference to the US Republicans) then it's going to take an awful lot of common sense to spot the real ones from the fakes. Like not using screenshots from Fallout 4. µ
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