Reddit bans 944 accounts linked to IRA Russian troll farm; CEO says racism is permitted on the platform

Reddit bans 944 accounts linked to IRA Russian troll farm; CEO Steve Huffman says racism is permitted on the platform

Reddit has banned 944 accounts linked to IRA Russian troll farm. Reddit CEO Steve Huffman published the team’s annual transparency report and released the entire list of 944 accounts. The report is to keep Redditors apprised of the constant requests and approvals by governments and law enforcement for production or preservation of user data.

Steve Huffman highlighted specific karma rating scores of the accounts which indicated that majority of the suspicious accounts had little or no engagement from users.

  • 70 percent (662) had zero karma
  • 1 percent (8) had negative karma
  • 22 percent (203) had 1-999 karma
  • 6 percent (58) had 1,000-9,999 karma
  • 1 percent (13) had a karma score of 10,000+

In his report Steve Huffman mentioned:

 In my post last month, I described that we had found and removed a few hundred accounts that were of suspected Russian Internet Research Agency origin. I’d like to share with you more fully what that means. At this point in our investigation, we have found 944 suspicious accounts, few of which had a visible impact on the site.

Of the 282 accounts with non-zero karma, more than half (145) were banned prior to the start of this investigation through our routine Trust & Safety practices. All of these bans took place before the 2016 election and in fact, all but 8 of them took place back in 2015. This general pattern also held for the accounts with significant karma: of the 13 accounts with 10,000+ karma, 6 had already been banned prior to our investigation—all of them before the 2016 election. Ultimately, we have seven accounts with significant karma scores that made it past our defenses.

And as I mentioned last time, our investigation did not find any election-related advertisements of the nature found on other platforms, through either our self-serve or managed advertisements. I also want to be very clear that none of the 944 users placed any ads on Reddit. We also did not detect any effective use of these accounts to engage in vote manipulation.

Apart from publishing the report, Reddit policy on moderation has created a huge controversy for Steve Huffman.

What is the new controversy surrounding Reddit CEO Steve Huffman?

A Reddit user chlomyster asked a question on the platform “I need clarification on something: Is obvious open racism, including slurs, against reddits rules or not?

Huffman replied,

“It’s not. On Reddit, the way in which we think about speech is to separate behavior from beliefs. This means on Reddit there will be people with beliefs different from your own, sometimes extremely so. When users actions conflict with our content policies, we take action.

Our approach to governance is that communities can set appropriate standards around language for themselves. Many communities have rules around speech that are more restrictive than our own, and we fully support those rules.”

It is certainly a controversial statement and many Reddit users are outraged that many community users are allowed to walk over the line of racism without any site action.  In a world where social media platforms play a huge role, Reddit needs to filter, manage and balance the content being circulated on his site.