Study: Bots, trolls infiltrating vaccine discussions on Twitter

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Computer bots and Russian trolls aren't just infiltrating American politics - they've also gotten into the nation's vaccine discussions.

Teams at Johns Hopkins and the University of Maryland found thousands of vaccine-related tweets on Twitter from 2014 to 2017 that came from bots - automated accounts, as well as trolls - people who are misrepresenting their identity.

Tweets under the #vaccinateUS were linked to a Russian company recently indicted for trying to interfere in the 2016 elections.

Their language tended to be polarizing, tying vaccines to other divisive social issues. Content on the automated accounts was strongly anti-vaccine.

The researchers didn't study vaccine discussions on Facebook, Instagram, or other social media, but they say those companies should examine more than politics for fake content.

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