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Weaponized Health Communication: Twitter Bots and Russian Trolls Amplify the Vaccine Debate

Overview of attention for article published in American Journal of Public Health, August 2018
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About this Attention Score

  • In the top 5% of all research outputs scored by Altmetric
  • One of the highest-scoring outputs from this source (#1 of 12,840)
  • High Attention Score compared to outputs of the same age (99th percentile)
  • High Attention Score compared to outputs of the same age and source (99th percentile)

Citations

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786 Dimensions

Readers on

mendeley
835 Mendeley
citeulike
2 CiteULike
Title
Weaponized Health Communication: Twitter Bots and Russian Trolls Amplify the Vaccine Debate
Published in
American Journal of Public Health, August 2018
DOI 10.2105/ajph.2018.304567
Pubmed ID
Authors

David A Broniatowski, Amelia M Jamison, SiHua Qi, Lulwah AlKulaib, Tao Chen, Adrian Benton, Sandra C Quinn, Mark Dredze

Abstract

To understand how Twitter bots and trolls ("bots") promote online health content. We compared bots' to average users' rates of vaccine-relevant messages, which we collected online from July 2014 through September 2017. We estimated the likelihood that users were bots, comparing proportions of polarized and antivaccine tweets across user types. We conducted a content analysis of a Twitter hashtag associated with Russian troll activity. Compared with average users, Russian trolls (χ2(1) = 102.0; P < .001), sophisticated bots (χ2(1) = 28.6; P < .001), and "content polluters" (χ2(1) = 7.0; P < .001) tweeted about vaccination at higher rates. Whereas content polluters posted more antivaccine content (χ2(1) = 11.18; P < .001), Russian trolls amplified both sides. Unidentifiable accounts were more polarized (χ2(1) = 12.1; P < .001) and antivaccine (χ2(1) = 35.9; P < .001). Analysis of the Russian troll hashtag showed that its messages were more political and divisive. 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. Public Health Implications. Directly confronting vaccine skeptics enables bots to legitimize the vaccine debate. More research is needed to determine how best to combat bot-driven content. (Am J Public Health. Published online ahead of print August 23, 2018: e1-e7. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2018.304567).

X Demographics

X Demographics

The data shown below were collected from the profiles of 10,348 X users who shared this research output. Click here to find out more about how the information was compiled.
Mendeley readers

Mendeley readers

The data shown below were compiled from readership statistics for 835 Mendeley readers of this research output. Click here to see the associated Mendeley record.

Geographical breakdown

Country Count As %
Unknown 835 100%

Demographic breakdown

Readers by professional status Count As %
Student > Master 123 15%
Student > Ph. D. Student 122 15%
Researcher 89 11%
Student > Bachelor 87 10%
Student > Doctoral Student 41 5%
Other 137 16%
Unknown 236 28%
Readers by discipline Count As %
Social Sciences 151 18%
Computer Science 65 8%
Medicine and Dentistry 63 8%
Nursing and Health Professions 46 6%
Psychology 31 4%
Other 198 24%
Unknown 281 34%
Attention Score in Context

Attention Score in Context

This research output has an Altmetric Attention Score of 7305. This is our high-level measure of the quality and quantity of online attention that it has received. This Attention Score, as well as the ranking and number of research outputs shown below, was calculated when the research output was last mentioned on 26 May 2024.
All research outputs
#383
of 25,986,827 outputs
Outputs from American Journal of Public Health
#1
of 12,840 outputs
Outputs of similar age
#3
of 345,601 outputs
Outputs of similar age from American Journal of Public Health
#1
of 181 outputs
Altmetric has tracked 25,986,827 research outputs across all sources so far. Compared to these this one has done particularly well and is in the 99th percentile: it's in the top 5% of all research outputs ever tracked by Altmetric.
So far Altmetric has tracked 12,840 research outputs from this source. They typically receive a lot more attention than average, with a mean Attention Score of 38.5. This one has done particularly well, scoring higher than 99% of its peers.
Older research outputs will score higher simply because they've had more time to accumulate mentions. To account for age we can compare this Altmetric Attention Score to the 345,601 tracked outputs that were published within six weeks on either side of this one in any source. This one has done particularly well, scoring higher than 99% of its contemporaries.
We're also able to compare this research output to 181 others from the same source and published within six weeks on either side of this one. This one has done particularly well, scoring higher than 99% of its contemporaries.