Photo: Getty
Show Hide image

Forget Facebook, Russian agents have been pretending to be furries on Tumblr

The idea of Boris and Natasha generating pro-Trump furry porn is too delicious. But it’s no less worrying than any other influence exerted by foreign agents.

Cambridge Analytica. Mark Zuckerberg. Steve Bannon. Russians pushing propaganda on Facebook and Twitter. Yeah, you’ve heard it all before, but did you know that Russian agents were posing as furries on Tumblr to destabilise the crucial ‘Riverdale stans’, K-Pop obsessive, secretly-looking-at—‘arty’-porn in the office demographic? Because they were. And Tumblr just admitted it. 

This morning, my colleague Niky received an email from Tumblr listing blogs that he followed on the social network which have, upon further inspection, been linked to Russian-state-linked actors. Yep, that’s right — it’s official, the propaganda machine got its tentacles deep into a site where tentacle porn is, well, depressingly common. 

The image of Boris and Natasha hunched over a laptop generating pro-Trump furry porn is too delicious. But at a certain level this is just as worrying as any of the other concealed influence exerted by foreign agents on our societies. Tumblr is a place where a huge number of young people spend a lot of their time. There are 392 million blog accounts on the service and many users live in their dashboards — the constant river of posts from blogs they follow. 

Let’s take a look at the blogs that Tumblr suggests were under Russian control, one of which was unwittingly followed by my D&D-loving, anime-obsessed friend:  

bellaxiao previously known as: blogmadworldlove

bellygangstaboo

blackness-by-your-side previously known as: black-galaxy-magic, fullyfurrymiracle, u4guy, ufo-pilot-and-his-sexy-spouse

cartnsncreal previously known as: feelmydragonballs

destinyrush previously known as: delightfullyghostlysong

funkycodex previously known as: craftykryptonitedelusion

gogomrbrown previously known as: go-mrbrown, infectedv0ice, todd-la-death

honestlyyoungpersona

hustleinatrap previously known as: thenaturecanpost, tumblercube

info-mix previously known as: americanstatistics, crazypolitician, girlsagainst, illegalmom, just-stat, rochelbarr

lagonegirl

massmedear previously known as: massblog021

mooseblogtimes

morningwoodz previously known as: 5cubes, bangbangempire, empireofweird, gifemprireohh, innerpicsempire, picsempire

nevaehtyler previously known as: laserenita

postingwhileblack previously known as: ghettablasta, heygeraldmartinjohanssen, honestinjun, nativewolveshere

rebellloudwiththecrowd previously known as: massivelystrangetyrant

sumchckn previously known as: blondeinpolitics, blvckcommunity, classylgbthomie, hwuudoin, politixblondie

swagintherain previously known as: blacklivesmatterusa, carzwithgirlz

the-real-eye-to-see

thetrippytrip previously known as: matrixpath, themostpost

thingstolovefor previously known as: the-inner-mirror

this-truly-brutal-world previously known as: awesomewhitepearl, free-mind-and-soul

voteforwest2020 previously known as: mrbadasscat

Notice in that list how many accounts are related in some way to black politics, LGBT issues, American “statistics”, with some even explicitly attempting to appear connected to Black Lives Matter. 

It’s fun to laugh at the idea of the Russians trying to mimic the syntax and obsessions of Tumblr teens but it’s clear they saw the site as another conduit for disruption and division. To have legitimate campaigns such as Black Lives Matter and LGBT rights efforts undermined is a huge issue. 

At this point, it feels like an over-repeated mantra but this incident only emphasises one of the core tenets of living online: check your sources and be sceptical. It’s all too easy to believe an account that wears the trappings of a sub-culture or campaign you identify with. And intelligence agencies know that, even if it means they have to pretend to be someone who believes they are actually the human embodiment of a wolf. 

I’m down with furries. I just don’t like Russians pretending to know what yiffing means. And no, don’t Google it. 

Mic Wright is a freelance journalist and CEO and partner at The Means Agency.

Arsène Wenger. Credit: Getty
Show Hide image

My biggest regret of the Wenger era? How we, the fans, treated him at the end

Arsenal’s greatest coach deserved better treatment from the Club’s supporters. 

I have no coherent memories of Arsenal before Arsène Wenger, who will leave the Club at the end of the season. I am aware of the Club having a new manager, but my continuous memories of my team are of Wenger at the helm.

They were good years to remember: three league titles, seven FA Cups, the most of any single manager in English football. He leaves the Club as the most successful manager in its history.

I think one of the reasons why in recent years he has taken a pasting from Arsenal fans is that the world before him now seems unimaginable, and not just for those of us who can't really remember it. As he himself once said, it is hard to go back to sausages when you are used to caviar, and while the last few years cannot be seen as below par as far as the great sweep of Arsenal’s history goes, they were below par by the standards he himself had set. Not quite sausages, but not caviar either.

There was the period of financial restraint from 2005 onwards, in which the struggle to repay the cost of a new stadium meant missing out on top player. A team that combined promising young talent with the simply bang-average went nine years without a trophy. Those years had plenty of excitement: a 2-1 victory over Manchester United with late, late goals from Robin van Persie and Thierry Henry, a delicious 5-2 thumping of Tottenham Hotspur, and races for the Champions League that went to the last day. It was a time that seemed to hold the promise a second great age of Wenger once the debt was cleared. But instead of a return to the league triumphs of the past, Wenger’s second spree of trophy-winning was confined to the FA Cup. The club went from always being challenging for the league, to always finishing in the Champions League places, to struggling to finish in the top six. Again, nothing to be sniffed at, but short of his earlier triumphs.

If, as feels likely, Arsenal’s dire away form means the hunt for a Uefa Cup victory ends at Atletico Madrid, many will feel that Wenger missed a trick in not stepping down after his FA Cup triumph over Chelsea last year, in one of the most thrilling FA Cup Finals in years. (I particularly enjoyed this one as I watched it with my best man, a Chelsea fan.) 

No one could claim that this season was a good one, but the saddest thing for me was not the turgid performances away from home nor the limp exit from the FA Cup, nor even finishing below Tottenham again. It was hearing Arsenal fans, in the world-class stadium that Wenger built for us, booing and criticising him.

And I think, that, when we look back on Wenger’s transformation both of Arsenal and of English football in general, more than whether he should have called it a day a little earlier, we will wonder how Arsenal fans could have forgotten the achievements of a man who did so much for us.

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman and the PSA's Journalist of the Year. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics.