A while back I did a post about tracking users from political subreddits. I wrote a quick app to pull users from a subreddit, and check what other subreddits they were commentating on. Among other things, what stood out was that Hillary Clinton’s supporters were camping out at /r/politicaldiscussion, but that the commentary at /r/politics was fairly evenly distributed between the then candidates, Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, and Donald Trump.
Interestingly this week, there has been lots of talk on Reddit about the fact that a Super PAC by the name of Correct The Record has long been paying people to write pro Hillary Clinton comments on Reddit. While this has long been known, what was interesting was that people were complaining specifically that /r/Politics was the destination for many of these comments. My previous research had concluded that while it was obvious that Clinton supporters were on Reddit and doing nothing but pumping her up, that /r/Politics was actually pretty evenly keeled. Add to that the fact that it’s Trump supporters reporting this (They can get easily excited over nothing), I wanted to take another look at things.
Do /r/politics users have a tendency to be in Hilary Clinton’s camp?
Yes. The graph above takes a random subset of users from each political subreddit and checks whether they also comment in /r/politics You can see that 61% of users on /r/HillaryClinton also comment in /r/Politics while only 39% also commenting from r/the_donald. This is a strong change from my previous post where it was all rather even. Does this conclude that it’s astroturfing? Well maybe. But you also have to remember that in my last post, we were including Bernie Sanders. I would say a large majority of those who supported him, have now moved to supporting Clinton.
As a side note, I also included /r/enoughtrumpspam in this chart. I thought it best to include it as it’s basically a pro Hilary Clinton subreddit so is worthy of being included here. Last time we also saw Hilary Clinton supports creating /r/enoughsandersspam, so it’s not some bi-partisan call for people to stop spamming Trump memes, it’s just another pro Clinton subreddit.
Is /r/politicaldiscussion still over the top pro Hilary
Yes. Although it is more likely that commentators in /r/politicaldiscussion are people not associated with any candidates subreddit, the people who are affiliated are overwhelmingly from Hillary Clintons camp.
So back to the original question. Are Super PACs for Hillary Clinton Astroturfing on Reddit? Well, the Correct The Record Super PAC has come out and said they are spending millions of dollars for people to astroturf social media anyway. So it’s not a question of IF they are doing it, but rather has it had an effect. The data shows that overwhelmingly the “neutral” political subreddits are pro Clinton which is a marked shift from my previous post where it was about even. The demographics of Reddit have always leaned to the left anyway, but it is interesting to see regardless.
Again. For more info on how politics on Reddit plays out. Read a previous post of mine here : http://mindingdata.com/2016/04/02/tracking-reddit-users-political-subreddits-failing/