You’re a smart cookie, and would never typically fall for state-sponsored disinformation online. However, and just bear with me here, what if it came from a Tumblr account with a really great name?
And by great, we of course mean so perfectly stupid that it defies belief.
Tumblr today published a list of users it claims “were engaged in state-sponsored disinformation and propaganda campaigns,” and the wonderful collection represents a funhouse mirror look at internet culture as interpreted by possible Russian trolls. Specifically, Tumblr tied some of the accounts in question to the Internet Research Agency — a Russian troll farm known for its efforts to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
That’s right, feelmydragonballs betrayed you.
There are, as you might expect, the rather transparent attempts to appear just like your regular, pro law-and-order, hip Tumblr-using teen. “Best-usa-today,” “guns4lifeme,” “apolicethepolicethings,” and “massivelydopepolice” were all usernames employed by state-sponsored actors.
And the tenth-dimensional chess went deep. If you happened to suspect that the content being posted was, say, a bit off and reeked of propaganda, a quick glance might reveal it was posted by “stopropaganda” or “fedupwithlying” — surely washing away those concerns.
thetrippytrip.tumblr.com, as captured by The Wayback Machine in July of 2017.Image: The wayback machineI mean, how could “honestlyyoungpersona” ever lie to you? They couldn’t, that’s how. Except, we now know, they did. And so did “mooseblogtimes,” “ufo-pilot-and-his-sexy-spouse,” and “feelmydragonballs.”
That’s right, “feelmydragonballs” betrayed you. We’ll let you sit with that one for a while.
This is not the fist time government-backed trolls have used dumb account names to influence politics around the world. In February, the U.S. Justice Department published a list of email accounts that Russian trolls used in their efforts to mess with the 2016 election.
“Staceyredneck@gmail.com” and “email@example.com” were just two of the choicer examples.
mooseblogtimes.tumblr.com, as captured by The Wayback Machine in March of 2016.As you might expect, Tumblr has deactivated the accounts in question. Thankfully, however, that does not deny us the opportunity to see what kind of surely A+ content users like “naughtykermit” were posting. That’s because The Wayback Machine lets us take a look at many of the accounts, and proves that their reblogs were often as dumb as the usernames themselves.
Which, to be fair, when it comes to the online world is not a critique limited to state-sponsored propaganda.