A new study claims that Russian trolls are spreading anti-vaccination propaganda online.
That’s right, the Russians, who are already on the hook for defeating Hillary Clinton in the election, are now being blamed for people not trusting vaccines.
The claim centers around accusations that Russian Twitter bots are creating anti-vaccine conversations on Twitter’s platform. The study believes that the Russians are going to great lengths to further stimulate anti-vaccination movements throughout the world. In fact, the study itself uses “weaponized” to describe Russia’s “interference” into vaccines.
The Russians seem to be an easy source of blame whenever the powers that be have no other explanation for people defying the system. The “Russia is making anti-vaccine happen” narrative is truly no different from the election blame-game in its dynamic.
The head of the study, Dr. David Broniatowski, says exactly that in his comments over the findings.
“If you look at social media you see a lot of anti-vaxxers, and that means that either the survey researchers aren’t doing their jobs very well, or the other possibility is that the discourse on social media is being amplified.”
In other words, researchers are looking for a scapegoat as to why an anti-vaccine movement is growing and that scapegoat can’t be themselves. So, enter the Russians.
The study claims to have examined Tweets from July 0f 2014 all the way through September of 2017. They claim that they found anti-vaccine Russian bots disseminating information with more density than real account holders.
But let’s take a closer look at the study, because it’s truly misleading.
Conclusions. Whereas bots that spread malware and unsolicited content disseminated antivaccine messages, Russian trolls promoted discord. Accounts masquerading as legitimate users create false equivalency, eroding public consensus on vaccination.
The study examines the volume of Tweets, but there is no mention of the responses, or actual ensuing conversations derived from those Tweets. The study is merely citing that it finds more density in bots discussing anti-vaccine topics than it does real humans.
So, who cares?
Bots are computer programs that can quickly and efficiently post pre-programmed messaging across Twitter. Bots are working in a variety of verticals and niches and markets.
The key would be to extract the true influence the bots have, but that’s not the point of the study. The study just points out that it believes “bots” start more polarizing vaccine conversations than real humans do.
Density does not matter, only influence, and that’s not cited in the study.
Instead, the study attaches “Russian” to the narrative of where the bots are derived from as a way to make the subject even more taboo and somehow relieve “researchers” of their failed quest to convince the herd that vaccines are good.
Bots will always post more in terms of total posts than a real human will. But that’s not exclusive to the anti-vaccine movement. I highly doubt Russian bots debating over whether or not vaccines are good or bad influences anyone. But that’s just my common sense speaking.
This isn’t me taking a stance on vaccines, this is me pointing out how silly it is to blame every social revolution on Russia. President Trump won the election, the powers that be were unhappy, they blamed Russia. Anti-vaccine movements are growing in Italy, Australia, the United States – Blame Russia.
The fact is, people have been debating vaccines long before it became trendy to blame Russia.
What else will we blame the Russians for at this juncture?
Are the Russians also behind the NFL’s low ratings? Maybe they should be. Maybe Russians are spreading pro-American propaganda on Twitter.
Author: Jim Satney
PrepForThat’s Editor and lead writer for political, survival, and weather categories.
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