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“Star Wars: The Last Jedi” Backlash Was Fueled by Russian Troll Bots

“Star Wars: The Last Jedi” Backlash Was Fueled by Russian Troll Bots

According to a new study, it appears a great deal of the online hate against Star Wars: The Last Jedi was partly due to politically-driven troll bots from Russia. The claim was made in an academic paper by Morten Bay titled “Weaponizing the Haters: ‘The Last Jedi’ and the Strategic Politicization of Pop Culture through Social Media Manipulation.”

The paper’s purpose was to investigate allegations that say the film ruined the Star Wars franchise, finding that a lot of the accounts were “politically motivated or not even human.” The results continue to say it “[found] evidence of deliberate, organized political influence measures disguised as fan arguments.”

The study claims the objective of these bots was to increase media coverage of the film’s backlash, which would fuel a propagating narrative of divisiveness and dysfunction in America, similar to bots’ hand in Brexit and the 2016 Presidential Election. “Persuading voters of this narrative remains a strategic goal for the U.S. alt-right movement, as well as the Russian Federation,” according to Bay.

It was deduced that over 50 percent of the negative tweets The Last Jedi director Ryan Johnson got were from “bots, trolls/sock puppets or political activists using the debate to propagate messages supporting extreme right-wing causes and the discrimination of gender, race or sexuality.” The confirmation of these bots being from Russia comes from Twitter itself, as 16 of the 2,752 accounts listed as being linked to Russia’s Internet Research Agency’s “troll farm” were found confronting the director.