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American Public Health Association

Article Metrics

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

Overview of attention for article published in American Journal of Public Health, October 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 10,788)
  • 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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51 Dimensions

Readers on

mendeley
236 Mendeley
citeulike
1 CiteULike
Title
Weaponized Health Communication: Twitter Bots and Russian Trolls Amplify the Vaccine Debate
Published in
American Journal of Public Health, October 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).

Twitter Demographics

The data shown below were collected from the profiles of 11,789 tweeters who shared this research output. Click here to find out more about how the information was compiled.

Mendeley readers

The data shown below were compiled from readership statistics for 236 Mendeley readers of this research output. Click here to see the associated Mendeley record.

Geographical breakdown

Country Count As %
Unknown 236 100%

Demographic breakdown

Readers by professional status Count As %
Student > Master 46 19%
Student > Ph. D. Student 39 17%
Student > Bachelor 33 14%
Researcher 31 13%
Unspecified 27 11%
Other 60 25%
Readers by discipline Count As %
Social Sciences 49 21%
Unspecified 48 20%
Medicine and Dentistry 36 15%
Computer Science 16 7%
Nursing and Health Professions 15 6%
Other 72 31%

Attention Score in Context

This research output has an Altmetric Attention Score of 6448. 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 29 September 2019.
All research outputs
#31
of 13,642,357 outputs
Outputs from American Journal of Public Health
#1
of 10,788 outputs
Outputs of similar age
#4
of 267,703 outputs
Outputs of similar age from American Journal of Public Health
#1
of 169 outputs
Altmetric has tracked 13,642,357 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 10,788 research outputs from this source. They typically receive a lot more attention than average, with a mean Attention Score of 21.7. 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 267,703 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 169 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.