skip to Main Content

Russian Trolls weaponized the vaccine debate in the Infowar against US

Russian Trolls Weaponized The Vaccine Debate In The Infowar Against US

Russian Trolls are using the vaccine debate as a weapon in their Infowar against the US. It has been discovered by the researchers at George Washington University, in the study “Weaponized Health Communication: Twitter Bots and Russian Trolls Amplify the Vaccine Debate”

Russian Trolls and malicious actors are using the vaccine debate as a weapon in their Infowar against the US. It has been discovered by the researchers at George Washington University, as part of a new study titled “Weaponized Health Communication: Twitter Bots and Russian Trolls Amplify the Vaccine Debate.” The news has been published by Islam Media Analysis and EU vs Disinfo. According to the cyber security experts, as many as 93% of messages about vaccines posted on Twitter between 2014 and 2017 came from malicious accounts, including accounts operated by Russian trolls. Researchers examined a random sample of almost 1.8 million tweets collected between July 2014 and September 2017 – before and during the U.S. presidential campaign, which different Russian actors are accused of seeking to influence.

The aim of the malicious actors is to promote discord. Accounts masquerading as legitimate users create false equivalency, eroding public consensus on vaccination

The study originally aimed at improving social media communications for U.S. public health workers. Instead, cyber researchers found that public health issues were being targeted as “attempts to spread misinformation and disinformation by foreign powers.”. A new weapon in the Infowar. They identified several accounts belonging to the Internet Research Agency (IRA), the infamous Russian troll factory based in St. Petersburg. The IRA has been indicted in the United States for interfering in the 2016 U.S. presidential elections. According to the experts, Russian trolls tweeted both pro-and anti-vaccine messages, a strategy often used by trolls to confuse audiences and undermine established facts or institutions. Mark Dredze, one of the researchers who took part in the study, said Russian trolls played both sides to “erode public trust in vaccination, exposing us all to the risk of infectious diseases. They are using vaccination as a wedge issue, promoting discord in American society.”

The George Washington University study (file PDF)

Back To Top