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Social media bots and Russian trolls sowed discord and spread false information about vaccines on Twitter, according to a new study conducted by researchers at Johns Hopkins University and other institutions.

Using tactics similar to those at work during the 2016 United States presidential election, these Twitter accounts entered into vaccine debates months before election season was under way. The study, “Weaponized Health Communication: Twitter Bots and Russian Trolls Amplify the Vaccine Debate,” was published Thursday in the American Journal of Public Health.

The research team included Mark Dredze, an associate professor in the Department of Computer Science at Johns Hopkins and a pioneer in the collection and study of social media data to monitor flu cases, mental illness trends, and other health concerns. Hopkins computer science graduate students Tao Chen and Adrian Benton, as well as researchers from George Washington University and the University of Maryland, also contributed to the study. …

…continue reading ‘Russian trolls, Twitter bots stoked vaccine debate by spreading misinformation, study finds’

Image via Flickr Attribution Some rights reserved by Alan O’Rourke

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