Russian Twitter bots sought to sow discord around vaccinations: report

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A new study published Thursday shows Russian bots promoted divisive speech and misinformation surrounding vaccinations in the U.S.

The study, which was published in the American Journal of Public Health, found social media posts taking hard-line views on both sides of the vaccination debate in roughly equal proportion.

“These trolls seem to be using vaccination as a wedge issue, promoting discord in American society,” the study’s authors told NBC News.


The researchers reportedly analyzed a list of Russian bot accounts compiled by NBC News and found that the accounts were “significantly more likely to tweet about vaccination than are average Twitter users.”

Several of the tweets studied originated from accounts identified as being connected to a Kremlin “troll farm,” the Internet Research Agency, NBC reported.

While the research found that posts relating to vaccinations represented a small proportion of the total sent out by the accounts, the study provides an insight that the Russian disinformation campaign did not focus strictly on political issues. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends a number of vaccinations as safe and beneficial.

The bot study comes out amid concerns Russia will attempt to meddle in the 2018 midterm elections with  similar disinformation campaigns on social media.

Tags Internet Research Agency Internet troll Twitter vaccinations
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