Tumblr confirms 84 accounts linked to Kremlin trolls

Tumblr has confirmed that Kremlin trolls were active on its platform during the 2016 US presidential elections. In a blog post today the social platform writes that it is “taking steps to protect against future interference in our political conversation by state-sponsored propaganda campaigns”. The company has also started emailing users who interacted with 84 accounts […]

Tumblr has confirmed that Kremlin trolls were active on its platform during the 2016 US presidential elections.

In a blog post today the social platform writes that it is “taking steps to protect against future interference in our political conversation by state-sponsored propaganda campaigns”.

The company has also started emailing users who interacted with 84 accounts it now says it has linked to the Russian trollfarm, the Internet Research Agency (IRA).

In the blog post it says it identified the accounts last fall — and “notified law enforcement, terminated the accounts, and deleted their original posts”.

“Behind the scenes, we worked with the Department of Justice, and the information we provided helped indict 13 people who worked for the IRA,” it adds.

In an email sent to a user, which was passed to TechCrunch to review, the company informs the individual they “either followed one of [11] accounts linked to the IRA, or liked or reblogged one of their posts”.

“As part of our commitment to transparency, we want you to know that we uncovered and terminated 84 accounts linked to Internet Research Agency or IRA (a group closely tied to the the Russian government) posing as members of the Tumblr community,” the email begins.

“The IRA engages in electronic disinformation and propaganda campaigns around the world using phony social media accounts. When we uncovered these accounts, we notified law enforcement, terminated the accounts, and deleted their original posts.”

Last month Buzzfeed News — working with researcher, Jonathan Albright, from the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University — claimed to have unearthed substantial Kremlin troll activity on Tumblr’s meme-laden platform — identifying what they dubbed as “a powerful, largely unrevealed network of Russian trolls focused on black issues and activism” which they said dated back to early 2015.

The trolls were reported to be using Tumblr to push anti-Clinton messages, including by actively promoting Democrat rival Bernie Sanders.

Decrying racial injustice and police violence in the US was another theme of the Russian-linked content.

Since then The Daily Beast has also reported on leaked data from the IRA which also implied agents at the trollfarm had used Tumblr — and also Reddit — to spread political propaganda to target the 2016 US election.

Those IRA leaks suggested the IRA had created at least 21 Tumblr accounts — and included names replete with slang terms, including some accounts listed in the user email we’ve reviewed.

Tumblr, which is owned by TechCrunch’s parent company Oath, did not respond to an email we sent to their press office last month asking about possible Kremlin activity on its platform.

In today’s public post, the company writes: “As far as we can tell, the IRA-linked accounts were only focused on spreading disinformation in the U.S., and they only posted organic content. We didn’t find any indication that they ran ads.”

As well as emailing affected users, Tumblr says it will be keeping a public record of usernames linked to the IRA or “other state-sponsored disinformation campaigns”.

The full list of 84 Kremlin accounts on its public page is as follows:

  1. 1-800-gloup
  2. 4mysquad previously known as: thomascestevez
  3. aaddictedtoblackk previously known as: kathyzunigaoverhere, soaddictedtoblackk
  4. artautumn
  5. awesomelizzyjenningsthings
  6. bastardpigeon previously known as: pigeonbastard
  7. belindadoingitgood
  8. bellaxiao previously known as: blogmadworldlove
  9. bellygangstaboo
  10. best-usa-today
  11. bestofninegag previously known as: apolicethepolicethings
  12. black-to-the-bones
  13. blackness-by-your-side previously known as: black-galaxy-magic, fullyfurrymiracle, u4guy, ufo-pilot-and-his-sexy-spouse
  14. blacknproud previously known as: in-the-mirror-world, indiebirdsblog, no-place-for-homophobia
  15. blacktolive
  16. bleepthepolice
  17. cartnsncreal previously known as: feelmydragonballs
  18. chantelreneeblm
  19. coldfirefan
  20. coolmagnificentbets
  21. cybercollectionnerdstuff
  22. delroyheater previously known as: delroyheater32, mastercucumber, scrumptiousluminarytimemachine, sexinstructor666, sexintructor
  23. destinyrush previously known as: delightfullyghostlysong
  24. down-to-venus previously known as: teenageflowerluminary
  25. eugeny-a-antonov
  26. everydaycutenesstherapy
  27. fedupwithlying previously known as: badgyalforyou
  28. funkycodex previously known as: craftykryptonitedelusion
  29. gentlexnoise previously known as: slakerglitch, superblydopepatrol
  30. getaninspiration
  31. gogomrbrown previously known as: go-mrbrown, infectedv0ice, todd-la-death
  32. gottimechillinaround previously known as: howardhenderson
  33. guns4l1fe previously known as: 4lifeme, guns4lifeme, unabashedpolicerunaway
  34. honestlyyoungpersona
  35. honeyjenna
  36. hustleinatrap previously known as: thenaturecanpost, tumblercube
  37. ineverstopexploringblog previously known as: charlenefletcher
  38. info-mix previously known as: americanstatistics, crazypolitician, girlsagainst, illegalmom, just-stat, rochelbarr
  39. itwontbeeasyme
  40. jamesjdelvecchio
  41. jenningsmiracle
  42. joycherryblossom previously known as: joyfullyhappycherryblossom
  43. justmarilynadventure previously known as: justmarylinthings
  44. kingbeardplayer previously known as: kirksgossplayer, placeofminimalthings
  45. kirstenbrownstories
  46. lagonegirl
  47. lamcbride
  48. loveboholiveboho
  49. massivelydopepolice
  50. massmedear previously known as: massblog021
  51. melanin-diary previously known as: blackjourney2justice, dontshootus, jusslittlestoner
  52. missberrianstuff
  53. mooseblogtimes
  54. morningwoodz previously known as: 5cubes, bangbangempire, empireofweird, gifemprireohh, innerpicsempire, picsempire
  55. nadiquitegoodatit previously known as: runlovernad
  56. nevaehtyler previously known as: laserenita
  57. noteverythingiswhite previously known as: ashleyfsilver
  58. poligraphme previously known as: poligraphmy
  59. postingwhileblack previously known as: ghettablasta, heygeraldmartinjohanssen, honestinjun, nativewolveshere
  60. rebellloudwiththecrowd previously known as: massivelystrangetyrant
  61. ricordio
  62. rikki-ri
  63. sassydreamlandcloud
  64. scentedballoonpanda
  65. sergpolozov
  66. shoutoutworldwide previously known as: blackprideworldwide, krispymentalitycowboy
  67. shyshannonstuff
  68. skullofjustice previously known as: naughtykermit, ryanbutlersstuff, usnationaldebt
  69. skwad55
  70. somestuff4ya previously known as: somestufffoya, unitedposters
  71. starling-all-black-all-day
  72. stopropaganda
  73. sumchckn previously known as: blondeinpolitics, blvckcommunity, classylgbthomie, hwuudoin, politixblondie
  74. summerinsomniac
  75. superblygun
  76. swagintherain previously known as: blacklivesmatterusa, carzwithgirlz
  77. the-real-eye-to-see
  78. thetrippytrip previously known as: matrixpath, themostpost
  79. thingstolovefor previously known as: the-inner-mirror
  80. this-truly-brutal-world previously known as: awesomewhitepearl, free-mind-and-soul
  81. voteforwest2020 previously known as: mrbadasscat
  82. weproudto2black
  83. wevanessastewartstuff
  84. yanbig
Tumblr is urging users to be vigilant for ongoing troll activity — linking to a News Literacy Project checklist for spotting their tricks, and encouraging people to “be skeptical of things you read” and to use fact-checkers such as Snopes.

It also suggests users step in and “correct the record” when they see others spreading misinformation, regardless of whether they believe it’s being done intentionally or not.

Concluding its email to the user who had unwittingly engaged with 11 of the identified IRA accounts, Tumblr adds: “We deleted the accounts but decided to leave up any reblog chains so that you can curate your own Tumblr to reflect your own personal views and perspectives.

“Democracy requires transparency and an informed electorate and we take our disclosure responsibility very seriously. We’ll be aggressively watching for disinformation campaigns in the future, take the appropriate action, and make sure you know about it.”

Asked how he feels to learn Kremlin trolls had unknowingly infiltrated his Tumblr feeds, the user told us: “It’s unsettling, although maybe not surprising, that we legitimize and signal boost bad actors on social platforms by ‘liking’ or reposting content that doesn’t appear to have any political agenda at first glance.”

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