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Russia meddled with Star Wars: The Last Jedi too

Russian trolls don't just mess with American elections. They also reportedly work to sow discord in a galaxy far, far away.

A recent study from the University of Southern California's Morten Bay analyzed about 1,000 tweets directed toward Star Wars: The Last Jedi helmer Rian Johnson between December 2017 and July 2018. It found that about half of the negative reactions came from accounts that were "likely politically motivated or not even human," with some coming from accounts that appeared to be Russian trolls or bots. Many also came from people who seemed to be objecting to the movie purely for political reasons. The 2017 film received overwhemingly positive reactions from critics but became divisive online, with at least some of the negativity coming from racists who objected to the presence of a new hero played by Kelly Marie Tran.

Other fans simply did not like the movie for legitimate reasons, but this genuine negative reaction may not have been quite as widespread as Russian accounts helped make it seem. Discounting the Russian trolls, bots, and politically motivated tweets, Bay's study concluded that only 10.5 percent of the tweets about The Last Jedi were "purely motivated by a negative stance towards the film." In fact, only about 22 percent of the tweets were negative at all, and this includes the ones from Russian trolls. There is "evidence of deliberate, organized political influence measures disguised as fan arguments," Bay adds.

On Twitter, Rian Johnson responded by saying the study's findings are "consistent with my experience online." He added in a second tweet that "this is not about fans liking or not liking the movie" but is instead about "a virulent strain of online harassment." Read more at Business Insider.