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Reddit bans nearly 1,000 accounts linked to Russian ‘troll farm’

  • Reddit found 944 accounts on the platform with ties to Russia's controversial Internet Research Agency (IRA), CEO Steve Huffman said.
  • The development follows Facebook's efforts to purge IRA-related accounts from its network.
  • Special Counsel Robert Mueller's office has alleged IRA was controlled by Yevgeny Prigozhin, a wealth ally to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Steve Huffman CEO, Reddit, delivers remarks on 'Redesigning Reddit' during the third day of Web Summit in Altice Arena on November 08, 2017 in Lisbon, Portugal.
Horacio Villalobos | Corbis | Getty Images
Steve Huffman CEO, Reddit, delivers remarks on 'Redesigning Reddit' during the third day of Web Summit in Altice Arena on November 08, 2017 in Lisbon, Portugal.

Reddit has banned almost 1,000 accounts linked to a controversial Russian firm accused of using online propaganda to influence the U.S. presidential election.

The firm found 944 accounts on the platform with ties to Russia's Internet Research Agency (IRA), a so-called "troll farm" based in St. Petersburg, CEO Steve Huffman said in an announcement Tuesday.

The development follows Facebook's efforts to purge IRA-related accounts from its network. Last week, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the social network was removing more than 270 pages and accounts operated by the IRA.

Zuckerberg was faced with intense grilling by Congress on Tuesday, over the sharing of 87 million users' personal information with data analytics firm Cambridge Analytica. Facebook's co-founder is due to appear before U.S. lawmakers again on Wednesday.

Facebook and Reddit differ, however, in that the latter lets users create anonymous accounts. Both have content policies that restrict what users can post online, and Reddit has said it is doing more to tackle content violations.

In October, the site implemented a ban on content that "glorifies, incites, or calls for violence or physical harm against an individual or a group of people." This led to the shutting down of Nazi communities, or "subreddits," including r/NationalSocialism, r/Nazi and r/Far_Right.

Last year, Huffman told CNBC that users misbehaving on Reddit were a minority. One subreddit, r/The_Donald became surrounded in controversy during the 2016 election battle between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. The community is devoted to supporters of the president.

Huffman said that IRA-linked accounts made 316 posts to r/The_Donald. He said in March that the company was cooperating with Congressional inquiries related to possible Russian interference in the U.S. presidential election.

The chief executive also included a link in the announcement to all of the 944 IRA-linked accounts "to allow moderators, investigators, and all of you to see their account histories for yourselves."

Reddit and Facebook aren't alone in being troubled by Russia-linked accounts that are accused of attempting to sway the U.S. election. In February, NBC News published a database of more than 200,000 Twitter posts that could be traced back to Russia's IRA.

In February, Special Counsel Robert Mueller's office announced that a federal grand jury had indicted 13 Russian nationals and three Russian entities. Mueller's office also alleged that the IRA was controlled by Yevgeny Progozhin, a wealth ally to Russian President Vladimir Putin.