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Anti-Vaccine Cyberbots

August 29, 2018

Russian cyberbots are spreading vaccine disinformation.

Transcript

Cyberbots can spread disinformation via social media. (LoboStudioHambur/Pixabay)

Cyberbots can spread disinformation via social media. (LoboStudioHambur/Pixabay)

BOB HIRSHON (host):

Anti-vaccine sites go viral. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

There’s no controversy about the safety and effectiveness of vaccines in the science community. But you’ll find an often hostile debate on social media sites. University of Maryland researcher Sandra Quinn and her colleagues report in the American Journal of Public Health now finds that Russian cyberbots are actively fueling the disinformation, driving web traffic to anti-vaccine websites, some  dedicated to spreading hoaxes.

SANDRA QUINN (University of Maryland):

So the same kinds of behaviors and actions that we’ve seen politically are now sowing some of the potential distrust, feeding vaccine hesitancy in the US, playing on some of the divides we know exist in our culture.

HIRSHON:

Quinn and her colleagues stress the importance of public education campaigns not only on public health, but also on how to tell trustworthy sources of information from unreliable ones. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.

Story by Bob Hirshon