Sputnik News

Several researchers told Radio Free Europe that the Russians are at it again: this time social media trolls and bots, who were accused of meddling in the 2016 US presidential election, are being blamed for a measles outbreak in Europe.

Russian bots and trolls are spreading conspiracy theories about side-effects of vaccinations to sow discord in the West, scientific researchers told Radio Free Europe.

“We actually don’t know enough about the influence of misinformation online upon vaccination intentions and behaviours. What we do know is that there is an element of echo chambers in this”, said WHO vaccine specialist Katrine Habersaat.

Their efforts may have contributed to the measles outbreak that infected thousands in Europe last year, the researchers claim, adding that the same Twitter trolls had attempted to influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential election in the US – an accusation, which, however, didn’t find proof to this day.

READ MORE: Busted! Mainstream Media’s Witch Hunt on ‘Russian Bots’ Over Skripal Case

The remarks by the scientists echoed the conclusion made in a 2018 reported by the American Public Health Association, entitled “Weaponized Health Communication: Twitter Bots and Russian Trolls Amplify the Vaccine Debate”.

“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. Health-related misconceptions, misinformation, and disinformation spread over social media, posing a threat to public health”, the report read.

The fact that even a measles outbreak is being linked to “Russian trolls” has caused quite a stir on social media, with netizens openly ridiculing the “Russians Did It” narrative:

Many noticed a certain pattern: when something goes wrong in the West, let’s blame Russia:

One Twitterian pointed out that the accusations in the RFE article range from unproven election interference, to promoting anti-vaccination views, with no evidence to corroborate the claims:

Another netizen turned to sarcasm, citing other horrific things that Russia could possibly be implicated in:

In the meantime, after over two years of investigation in Russia’s alleged meddling, the Senate Intelligence Committee said that it had found no direct evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin.

“If we write a report based upon the facts that we have, then we don’t have anything that would suggest there was collusion by the Trump campaign and Russia”, said Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, in an interview with CBS News last week.