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Star Wars: The Last Jedi was recently released and some professional journalists are attributing a discrepancy between the low Rotten Tomatoes audience score—when compared to the relatively universal critical acclaim—to a coordinated effort by supposed “trolls” using bots:

  • “…I pondered not just the strangely low Rotten Tomatoes audience rating (57%, compared to a 93% “fresh” and 8.2/10 rating among critics) but a deluge of folks in my social media feeds, folks who had little issue with the gender parity/ethnic inclusivity of the new Star Wars movie, were nonetheless not terribly thrilled. I still think the Rotten Tomatoes discrepancy is partially due to trolls gaming the system.” — Scott Mendelson (Forbes)

  • “A Facebook page called Down With Disney’s Treatment of Franchises and its Fanboys is claiming responsibility for tanking the Rotten Tomatoes audience score for the latest “Star Wars” film, alleging that it used bots in a concerted attack against the Rian Johnson-directed movie.” — Bill Bradley and Matthew Jacobs (Huffington Post)

So is there any evidence out there of an organized attempt by some entity—“trolls,” bots, others…—to deliberately lower the Rotten Tomatoes audience score of Star Wars: The Last Jedi?

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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it a question of motivations, which are generally non-falsifiable. – Flimzy Dec 25 '17 at 12:16
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    The claim seems to be that the reviewers were either bots or people using multiple accounts. Neither of those are dependent on motivation. – Brythan Dec 25 '17 at 17:44
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    @JakeGould I wrote the comment before I saw the Rotten Tomtoes response. Your answer is probably the best we can get, but I would caution because saying "we weren't hacked" isn't equivalent to "we weren't subject to a trolling/protest campaign". – DenisS Dec 27 '17 at 19:31
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    @Flimzy - if the claim is that bots were used as a tool for trolling, I don't see where they have to be exclusive of each other. – PoloHoleSet Dec 27 '17 at 19:43
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    @JakeGould: I deliberately played down the troll angle, because that is a reflection on their motivations. It can't be proved if the goal of the alleged vote tampering was to "troll" (i.e. get an emotional reaction from the public), to punish the film producers, to give an advantage to competitors, to sabotage the rating site or because the bots themselves achieved sentience and weren't happy with the portrayal of droids in the movie. What matters is if some users were able to sway the vote significantly by voting multiple times. – Oddthinking Dec 28 '17 at 15:55
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The answer from Rotten Tomatoes is essentially, “No, these audience reviews are real.”

After the reports of review supposed hacking started to spread, a representative for Rotten Tomatoes contacted the website Polygon and stated the following regarding claims of review hacking; bold emphasis is mine:

The authenticity of our critic and user scores is very important to Rotten Tomatoes and as a course of regular business, we have a team of security, network, social and database experts who closely monitor our platforms. They haven’t determined there to be any problems.

For Star Wars: The Last Jedi, we have seen an uptick in people posting written user reviews, as fans are very passionate about this movie and the franchise. The number of written reviews being posted by fans is comparable to Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

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    +1 The aspect that there is a comparable amount of fan reviews as The Force Awakens gives credence that it isn't trolls nor overly distraught fans (a vocal minority that dislike it) – Lan Dec 27 '17 at 17:22
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    Of course Rotten Tomatoes could be wrong (or not willing to admit their scores can be manipulated). Proof of what they say is required (eg the score distribution not just the average or matched scores from frequent, trusted users). Show us the evidence not just the claim. – matt_black Dec 27 '17 at 19:33
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    @matt_black You make a valid point. But I am acting on the information I have now. In general, I think the idea that an aberrant point of view on a subject so trivial as this is ascribed to “bots” or “magic” it needs to be addressed immediately. If by any chance evidence appears to counter these claims, I will be sure to update. Additionally, if anyone else can provide new/differing evidence, I genuinely look forward to seeing it as a new answer. – JakeGould Dec 27 '17 at 23:11
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    @matt_black Actually, Rotten Tomatoes doesn't even make a claim that could be wrong. They just said they haven't determined there is a problem. They didn't say there is no problem, just that they haven't determined one exists (or doesn't exist). It's very non-committal. – Alexander O'Mara Dec 28 '17 at 6:42

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