Reddit hack: Hundreds of subreddits vandalised to promote Trump

Hundreds of Reddit communities have been targeted by supporters of Donald Trump, with numerous posts and images flooding the subreddits to promote the president’s re-election campaign.

A number of non-political groups, including r/weddingplanning, r/NFL, r/TwoSentenceHorror, r/space, r/CreepyPMs, and more were targeted, according to a support post on Reddit.

“There is an ongoing incident with moderator accounts being compromised and used to vandalise subreddits,” the post reads.

“We’re working on locking down the bad actors and reverting the changes”, the post continues. Since the attack took place, Reddit has said it is “letting owners back into their accounts”.

“An investigation is underway related to a series of vandalised communities. It appears the source of the attacks were compromised moderator accounts. We are working to lock down those accounts and restore impacted communities,” Reddit said in a statement.

As reported by Ars Technica, a Twitter account which also appeared to be hacked took responsibility for the breach.

The account user claimed that they were able to access the accounts because of weak passwords, but the account was suspended before that could be confirmed.

Reddit also said that none of the accounts compromised had two-factor authentication enabled – which requires users to verify sign-ins through a second device or via a text message – and which could imply the Twitter user was legitimate.

“We combined password stuffing and social engineering together to beat the teenage bitcoin cheater,” the hackers claimed, as reported by Wired. This is apparently a reference to the recent hacker who managed to take over the accounts of many high-profile Twitter users in order to promote a Bitcoin scam.

The Independent has reached out to Twitter for clarification, and to Reddit for more information about the cause of the breach.

This mass-hack comes after the r/The_Donald subreddit was banned by Reddit in June, due to repeated rule-breaking. The community had nearly 800,000 members.

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, r/The_Donald acted as “a bridge between fringe online communities and the wider internet”.

Right-wing communities were not the only ones struck by the ban; a subreddit supporting the left-wing podcast Chapo Trap House was also shut down due to “consistently host[ing] rule-breaking content and their mods have demonstrated no intention of reining in their community.“

However, over the years r/The_Donald members had tried to game Reddit’s algorithm, attempting to push their posts to the front page of the website or on mainstream subreddits like r/All. Reddit had to change its algorithm as a response to stop all political posts from reaching its front page.

Reddit CEO Steve Huffman, in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests, penned an open letter published to the site that said Reddit does ”not tolerate hate, racism, and violence, and while we have work to do to fight these on our platform, our values are clear.”

In response, the moderators of 500 subreddits said Huffman’s letter was inauthentic, while Reddit’s former CEO Ellen Pao specifically cited r/The_Donald for its repeated abuses and offensive memes, saying the social media site “nurtures and monetizes white supremacy and hate all day long.”


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