World warning: Trolls-attack vaccines – 26-08-2018



Researchers from the United States have investigated how social networks can be used to improve public health They have discovered an enemy against whom they were not immune: Russian trolls and Twitter bots that spread false information and promote opinions about vaccinations.

Researchers have found the origin of it some of these messages in the Internet Research Agency, the Russian company backed by the Moscow government accused of interference in the 2016 elections in which Donald Trump was elected president. According to the results presented this week in the American Journal of Public Health medical journal, the tactic used was the same in the case of vaccines and in the election campaign: to encourage the polarization of opinions and social division. This action "legitimizes the debate about vaccines [y] eroding public consensus about them ", the researchers write.

"The vast majority of US citizens believe vaccines are safe and effective, but Twitter has the impression that there is a lot of discussion," said David Broniatowski, lead author of the research at George Washington University. "Many antivacuna tweets come from accounts with an uncertain origin, and our results suggest that a significant part of the discourse on vaccines in social networks can be generated by malicious actors with hidden agendas."

The national vaccination calendar consists of 20 vaccines for different life phases.

The national vaccination calendar consists of 20 vaccines for different life phases.

The research, funded by the US National Institutes of Health, began with the goal of analyzing how social networks can help citizens make decisions about your health "We wanted to understand the origin of the discrepancy between the broad consensus on vaccines registered in the surveys and the existing debate on social networks," Broniatowski explains by e-mail.

The researchers have analyzed more than 1.7 million tweets related to vaccines published in the United States from July 2014 to September 2017. This allowed them to identify two types of issuers who are more likely to tweet about vaccines than the average citizen.

On the one hand, the bots – computer programs are made to perform repetitive tasks automatically – designed to issue tweets about vaccines. In the bots, the researchers They mark content polluters, which consist of accounts that spread malware (or malicious software), unwanted advertisements and other disruptive materials. "Contaminants of content appear to use anti-vaccination messages as a hook for users to click on ads and links to malicious websites, and ironically, the content that prefers exposure to biological viruses also prefers exposure to computer viruses," said Sandra C. Quinn, co-author of the research, from the University of Maryland in a statement.

The investigation detected malicious webs.

The investigation detected malicious webs.

On the other hand, there are the trolls programs that are directly controlled by people who post messages with the aim of distorting the debate – who behave in a more refined way. Many of these trolls can be traced back to the Russian company Internet Research Agency after Twitter facilitated the US Congress a list of trolls that could affect the presidential election of 2016. Twitter eliminated 3,800 accounts linked to that company in February.

Researchers have observed that Russian trolls tweet 22 times more often about vaccines than the average user from Twitter. Specifically, one in 550 tweets of Russian trolls talked about vaccines, while the average for all other human users is one at 12,000.

The Internet Research Agency, based in St. Petersburg, even made the label #VaccinateUS to stimulate the debate. But what surprises researchers the most is that, while the bots mainly spread anti-vaccination messages, the Russian trolls spread messages in favor and against vaccination in equal parts.

"Russian trolls encourage disagreement, and accounts presented as legitimate users erode social consensus on vaccines," the researchers conclude in the American Journal of Public Health. "This is in line with the strategy to encourage controversial disputes, a well-known tactic used by Russian troll accounts."

Between 5 and 6 years old, children must receive three vaccines.

Between 5 and 6 years old, children must receive three vaccines.

"The goal is to divide the two sides so that they are against the middle", CNN told Patrick Warren, an economist at Clemson University in South Carolina (USA), who did not participate in the study.

Although the work was limited to Twitter and the US, the debate on the efficacy and safety of vaccines has started in recent years also in other social networks and other countries. In Europe, the most prominent case is that of Italy, where the Minister of Health, Giulia Grillo, is against the systematic vaccination of children and where Vice President Matteo Salvini raises polemics that divide society.

"It will be necessary to do more research to determine the best way to combat the contents of bots and trolls, "conclude the authors of the work, suggesting that" public health professionals should focus on combating malicious or false information and stress that a significant proportion of the anti-vaccine messages are focused ".


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World warning: Trolls-attack vaccines – 26-08-2018



Researchers from the United States have investigated how social networks can be used to improve public health They have discovered an enemy against whom they were not immune: Russian trolls and Twitter bots that spread false information and promote opinions about vaccinations.

Researchers have found the origin of it some of these messages in the Internet Research Agency, the Russian company backed by the Moscow government accused of interference in the 2016 elections in which Donald Trump was elected president. According to the results presented this week in the American Journal of Public Health medical journal, the tactic used was the same in the case of vaccines and in the election campaign: to encourage the polarization of opinions and social division. This action "legitimizes the debate about vaccines [y] eroding public consensus about them ", the researchers write.

"The vast majority of US citizens believe vaccines are safe and effective, but Twitter has the impression that there is a lot of discussion," said David Broniatowski, lead author of the research at George Washington University. "Many antivacuna tweets come from accounts with an uncertain origin, and our results suggest that a significant part of the discourse on vaccines in social networks can be generated by malicious actors with hidden agendas."

The national vaccination calendar consists of 20 vaccines for different life phases.

The national vaccination calendar consists of 20 vaccines for different life phases.

The research, funded by the US National Institutes of Health, began with the goal of analyzing how social networks can help citizens make decisions about your health "We wanted to understand the origin of the discrepancy between the broad consensus on vaccines registered in the surveys and the existing debate on social networks," Broniatowski explains by e-mail.

The researchers have analyzed more than 1.7 million tweets related to vaccines published in the United States from July 2014 to September 2017. This allowed them to identify two types of issuers who are more likely to tweet about vaccines than the average citizen.

On the one hand, the bots – computer programs are made to perform repetitive tasks automatically – designed to issue tweets about vaccines. In the bots, the researchers They mark content polluters, which consist of accounts that spread malware (or malicious software), unwanted advertisements and other disruptive materials. "Contaminants of content appear to use anti-vaccination messages as a hook for users to click on ads and links to malicious websites, and ironically, the content that prefers exposure to biological viruses also prefers exposure to computer viruses," said Sandra C. Quinn, co-author of the research, from the University of Maryland in a statement.

The investigation detected malicious webs.

The investigation detected malicious webs.

On the other hand, there are the trolls programs that are directly controlled by people who post messages with the aim of distorting the debate – who behave in a more refined way. Many of these trolls can be traced back to the Russian company Internet Research Agency after Twitter facilitated the US Congress a list of trolls that could affect the presidential election of 2016. Twitter eliminated 3,800 accounts linked to that company in February.

Researchers have observed that Russian trolls tweet 22 times more often about vaccines than the average user from Twitter. Specifically, one in 550 tweets of Russian trolls talked about vaccines, while the average for all other human users is one at 12,000.

The Internet Research Agency, based in St. Petersburg, even made the label #VaccinateUS to stimulate the debate. But what surprises researchers the most is that, while the bots mainly spread anti-vaccination messages, the Russian trolls spread messages in favor and against vaccination in equal parts.

"Russian trolls encourage disagreement, and accounts presented as legitimate users erode social consensus on vaccines," the researchers conclude in the American Journal of Public Health. "This is in line with the strategy to encourage controversial disputes, a well-known tactic used by Russian troll accounts."

Between 5 and 6 years old, children must receive three vaccines.

Between 5 and 6 years old, children must receive three vaccines.

"The goal is to divide the two sides so that they are against the middle", CNN told Patrick Warren, an economist at Clemson University in South Carolina (USA), who did not participate in the study.

Although the work was limited to Twitter and the US, the debate on the efficacy and safety of vaccines has started in recent years also in other social networks and other countries. In Europe, the most prominent case is that of Italy, where the Minister of Health, Giulia Grillo, is against the systematic vaccination of children and where Vice President Matteo Salvini raises polemics that divide society.

"It will be necessary to do more research to determine the best way to combat the contents of bots and trolls, "conclude the authors of the work, suggesting that" public health professionals should focus on combating malicious or false information and stress that a significant proportion of the anti-vaccine messages are focused ".


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