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Full disclosure: I am not a Russian troll.
On Wednesday, the Wall Street Journal published an analysis of nearly 10,000 tweets published by accounts linked to the Internet Research Agency (IRA), a Russian-backed organization that Special Counsel Robert Mueller indicted for its attempts to interfere with the American electoral process.
Analysis - Researchers - Clemson - University - Two-thirds
The analysis, undertaken by researchers at Clemson University, found that just under two-thirds (63 percent) of the health care-related tweets trolled for Republican causes—that is, opposing Obamacare or supporting its repeal—while one-sixth (16 percent) trolled for Democratic ones, by supporting the law and opposing “repeal-and-replace” efforts last year.
It should go without saying, but no one should support efforts to interfere with, or otherwise corrupt, the American democratic process. Particularly given the way in which Russia’s authoritarian regime has stifled dissent and dismantled the country’s free and independent media, the IRA and Russian President Vladimir Putin have little business trying to lecture the United States on how to run a government.
Government - Health - Care - Wedge - Issue
That said, it seems unsurprising that the Russian government would attempt to use health care as a “wedge” issue to divide groups of Americans. The Journal article notes that “health policy [was a] natural target for the [Russian] provocateurs.”
In 2010, Democrats passed their health-care law through Congress on strict party lines, with not a single Republican vote. Health care in general, and Obamacare in particular, have remained polarizing issues ever since. The Journal also noted that the trolls’ Obamacare-related activity spiked last spring and summer, during the heat of the debate over “repeal-and-replace” legislation in Congress.
IRA - Involvement - Health - Care - Debates
However, the IRA did not confine its involvement in health care to debates surrounding Obamacare. A study published in the American Journal of Public Health last month, and entitled “Weaponized Health Communication,” found that Russian bots also disproportionately referenced vaccines as a subject of controversy. Many of the...
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