This past March, we made you aware of steps we took to take down an Internet Research Agency (IRA) disinformation campaign operating on Tumblr in the lead up to the 2016 U.S. elections. The IRA is a Russian state-sponsored group that attempts to influence global political sentiment using Tumblr and other platforms. Our efforts helped indict 13 people who worked for the IRA.
We said at the time that we would be on the lookout for additional evidence of fake Tumblr accounts affiliated with state-sponsored disinformation campaigns.
In the days leading up to November 6, 2018, we were provided information by law enforcement authorities, including a list of Tumblr accounts allegedly tied to the IRA. We immediately initiated our own independent investigation and we have now identified a total of 112 accounts that we believe to be IRA-affiliated. These accounts appear to be relics of past IRA activity. None of the blogs contained any content related to the 2018 midterm elections, and all of the blogs were dormant since the 2016 election cycle.
Although these blogs posed no threat to the 2018 elections, consistent with our promise in March, we:
- Immediately terminated these accounts and removed the original posts;
- Left reblogs of posts from these accounts in place for transparency purposes;
- Are notifying you if you liked, reblogged, replied to, or followed one of the accounts; and
- Have added the accounts to our public record of usernames linked to state-sponsored disinformation campaigns.
U.S. intelligence officials and law enforcement continue to warn that we will see attempts at foreign influence in the future. We remain committed to closely monitoring for signs of state-sponsored disinformation campaigns and will continue to review any information made available to us.
There are also things you can do to help stop the spread of disinformation and propaganda.
- Be aware that people want to manipulate the conversation. Knowing that disinformation and propaganda accounts are out there makes it harder for them to operate. The News Literacy Project has this handy checklist for spotting their tricks.
- Be skeptical of things you read. Disinformation campaigns work because they know people don’t fact check. Look for reliable sources, and double-check that the source really says the same thing as the post. You can also check Snopes and Politifact. Both are award-winning resources and usually have the latest viral claim fact-checked on the front page.
- Correct the record. When you see people spreading misinformation—even unintentionally—politely say something in a reblog or reply. If it’s your friend, send them a message to let them know.
Most importantly, we’ll continue to keep our promise to be transparent with you.