After months of silence, Tumblr Friday released a list of 84 usernames and their aliases that it says were connected to "state-sponsored disinformation and propaganda campaigns." It's the first time the company has publicly acknowledged what journalists and researchers have known now for months: Russian trolls also used Tumblr to spread their divisive memes and gifs, reportedly to the tune of hundreds of thousands of interactions.
"Democracy requires transparency and an informed electorate, and we take our responsibilities very seriously," Tumblr wrote in a brief introduction to the list. "We aggressively monitor Tumblr for signs of state-sponsored disinformation campaigns, and take the appropriate action when we uncover anything." A company spokesperson declined to answer follow-up questions about what form that monitoring takes, how comprehensive the current list is, and what took Tumblr so long to make this information public.
'It was one of the biggest components of trying to reach young black youth in urban communities.'
Jonathan Alrbight, Tow Center for Journalism
While Facebook, Twitter, and Google have all testified before Congress about the ways trolls from the Russian Internet Research Agency abused their platforms to create political chaos during the 2016 election, Tumblr has remained remarkably silent on the matter. In fact, when researcher Jonathan Albright told Buzzfeed about IRA-related content on Tumblr, the blogging company and its parent business Oath offered no comment at all, despite reportedly opening Buzzfeed's emails more than 290 times.
Albright, who has amassed a trove of IRA-linked content from across the web, stumbled on the Tumblr posts while he was analyzing Russia's trolling Facebook and Twitter content. He noticed a large percentage of posts on those sites linked to Tumblr. In particular, he found an account called