The comment sections of blogs can influence perceptions of consensus, which can in turn influence beliefs about climate change, according to new research published in the journal Memory & Cognition. The findings suggest that readers “may be nudged towards rejection of climate science if they encounter a stream consisting of contrarian comments.”

“Social media has taken an increasingly prominent role in public discourse, and there is now much concern that it has been exploited by bad-faith actors in support of political operations. We know that ‘trolls’ and ‘bots’ — that is accounts that are in some way fake — have been very active during recent elections and may have affected the outcome of the Brexit referendum and the election of Donald Trump in 2016,” said study author Stephan Lewandowsky (@STWorg), a professor of cognitive science at the University of Bristol.