Russian trolls and Twitter bots article garners widespread attention

August 27, 2018

With the publication of the research study Weaponized Health Communication: Twitter Bots and Russian Trolls Amplify the Vaccine Debate, in the American Journal of Public Health (AJPH), the conversation about the influence Russian trolls have over the political and social discourse in this country once again made front-page news.

Researchers studied tweets related to vaccinations during the years 2014-2017 and found that Russian trolls were able to utilize Twitter bots in order to engage with Americans over vaccinations. Arguments for both pro-vaccination and anti-vaccination were used by the Russian trolls. Seemingly, the sole purpose of the Russian trolls was to raise the level of hostility.

Associate Professor Mark Dredze, CLSP graduate student Adrian Benton, and former CLSP postdoc Tao Chen were co-authors on the paper along with researchers from George Washington University and the University of Maryland, College Park.

Currently, the study is being featured in various news outlets, including The New York Times, CNN, Washington Post, and The Guardian.

Center for Language and Speech Processing