Tags: russia | trolls | measles | outbreak | vaccinations

Russian Trolls Linked to Measles Outbreak

By    |   Sunday, 17 February 2019 03:33 PM

Russian social-media trolls who spread discord before the 2016 U.S. presidential election may have played a role in a deadly measles outbreak in Europe, Radio Free Europe reports.

The trolls spread misinformation and raised public doubts about vaccinations, possibly contributing to the 2018 outbreak that killed 72 people and infected more than 82,000, the news outlet reported.

In a study published in the American Journal of Public Health, cybercampaigns by the Internet Research Agency -- a St. Petersburg "troll farm" that’s been accused of meddling in the 2016 presidential election -- was found to have artificially bolstered the anti-vax debate on social media since 2014.

According to the World Health Organization, "vaccination hesitancy" has become one of the top threats to global health. Measles in particular has seen a 30 percent increase globally, the organization reported.

“The reasons for this rise are complex, and not all of these cases are due to vaccine hesitancy,” the WHO reported. “However, some countries that were close to eliminating the disease have seen a resurgence.”

WHO vaccine specialist Katrine Habersaat is skeptical about a link between trolls and the measles outbreak.

“We actually don’t know enough about the influence of misinformation available online upon vaccination intentions and behaviors,” she told Radio Free Europe. “What we do know is that there is an element of echo chambers in this.”

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Russian social-media trolls who spread discord before the 2016 U.S. presidential election may have played a role in a deadly measles outbreak in Europe, Radio Free Europe reports.
russia, trolls, measles, outbreak, vaccinations
224
2019-33-17
Sunday, 17 February 2019 03:33 PM
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