“Star Wars: The Last Jedi” sparked plenty of backlash and criticism online in the last year, but a new study claims that most of the negative reaction was actually from trolls and bots.
The paper published by Morten Bay, a researcher at the University of Southern California, alleges that much of the backlash was a disingenuous attempt by trolls with a political agenda against the film’s diverse casting.
“The results of the social media study presented in this paper presents evidence that political influence through manipulation of social media discussions is no longer exclusive to political debate but can now also be found in pop culture,” Bay writes.
“The study finds evidence of deliberate, organized political influence measures disguised as fan arguments,” the paper continues. “The likely objective of these measures is increasing media coverage of the fandom conflict, thereby adding to and further propagating a narrative of widespread discord and dysfunction in American society.”
The study concludes the fact that more than half of the negative tweets about the film sent to director Rian Johnson were sent by “bots, trolls/sock puppets or political activists using the debate to propagate political messages supporting extreme right-wing causes and the discrimination of gender, race or sexuality.”