In The Politics of Autism, I look at the discredited notion that vaccines cause autism. Thanks to antivaccine sentiment, there are growing measles outbreaks.
In August 2018, the American Journal of Public Health published a study analyzing the influence Russian-made fake accounts had on the anti-vaccine movement in the United States. Between July 2014 and September 2017, the authors report, Russian “trolls, sophisticated bots, and content polluters” tweeted about vaccination at higher rates than real users. Some promoted misinformation, while other fake accounts seemed intent on “sowing discord.” Inflammatory messages ranged from antagonistic tweets that seemed pro-vaccine "You can’t fix stupidity. Let them die from measles, and I’m for #vaccination” to explicitly anti-vaccine messages like “Don’t get #vaccines. Illuminati are behind it.” Together, these fake users “create[d] false equivalency, eroding public consensus on vaccination,” according to the study.