Saturday, July 13, 2024

Russian bot farm allegedly used artificial intelligence to impersonate Americans, says U.S.

Russian Propaganda Campaign Disrupted by U.S. Department of Justice Using AI-powered Fake Social Media Accounts

The U.S. Department of Justice has uncovered a sophisticated Russian propaganda campaign that used fake social media accounts powered by artificial intelligence to spread disinformation across the globe. The bot farm behind the operation created AI-generated profiles impersonating Americans on social media platforms, including X (formerly known as Twitter), to push pro-Kremlin narratives and support Russia’s war in Ukraine.

According to the Justice Department, the bot farm was part of a Kremlin-approved project led by a Russian intelligence officer, with the AI software organized by an unnamed editor at RT, the Russian state-owned media outlet. This revelation comes amidst warnings from intelligence and security officials that Russia is increasing its propaganda efforts in a crucial global election year, aiming to undermine support for Ukraine and discredit democratic adversaries.

The use of AI technology in generating realistic text, images, audio, and video has raised concerns about the potential for amplifying propaganda and disinformation on a larger scale. Meta (owner of Facebook) and OpenAI have identified foreign influence campaigns, including those linked to Russia, that leverage AI to manipulate public opinion.

FBI Director Christopher Wray emphasized the threat posed by Russia using AI to disseminate foreign disinformation, particularly targeting partners in Ukraine and shaping geopolitical narratives favorable to the Russian government. RT, the Russian state media outlet, has been seeking alternative distribution channels following restrictions imposed after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022.

The DOJ disclosed that nearly a thousand fake profiles on X were part of the Russian campaign, including one claiming to be based in Minneapolis, posting videos of Russian President Vladimir Putin justifying actions in Ukraine. X suspended these accounts for violating its terms of service, but the extent of their reach and interactions remains unclear. The DOJ also seized domain names used by the bot farm to create email accounts for setting up the fake X profiles.

As the battle against disinformation continues to evolve with the advancement of technology, the impact of AI-powered propaganda campaigns highlights the need for vigilance in identifying and countering such threats to democracy and global stability.

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