Monday, July 15, 2024

US authorities discover suspected Russian ‘bot farm’

US Officials Take Action Against Russian AI-Powered Information Operation

US Officials Take Action Against Russian AI-Powered Information Operation

US officials have made a significant move against a Russian AI-powered information operation, targeting nearly 1,000 accounts that were pretending to be Americans. These accounts, operating on social media platform X, were identified as automated “bots” used to spread pro-Russia stories.

According to court documents released by the US Justice Department, the operation was orchestrated by a deputy editor at Kremlin-owned RT, known as Russia Today. RT is a media outlet that runs TV channels in various languages and has a strong presence on social media.

The justice department seized two websites associated with the bot accounts and demanded X to provide information on 968 accounts believed to be bots. These accounts, created using artificial intelligence, were used to promote pro-Russian narratives, particularly regarding the conflict in Ukraine.

FBI Director Christopher Wray stated, “Today’s actions represent a first in disrupting a Russian-sponsored generative AI-enhanced social media bot farm. Russia intended to use this bot farm to disseminate AI-generated foreign disinformation, undermining our partners in Ukraine and influencing geopolitical narratives in favor of the Russian government.”

Although the accounts have been deleted by X, FBI screenshots showed that they had very few followers. The court documents revealed that the “bot farm” was initiated by an RT deputy editor-in-chief after RT America was shut down following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022.

The operation involved another RT employee and a Russian intelligence officer, with the goal of spreading misinformation to sow discord in the United States. While no criminal charges have been publicly announced, the investigation is ongoing.

Experts like Nina Jankowicz, head of the American Sunlight Project, highlighted the increasing use of AI in disinformation campaigns. She remarked, “Artificial intelligence is now clearly part of the disinformation arsenal,” emphasizing the need to combat such tactics.

The BBC reached out to X, RT, and the Russian Foreign Ministry for comments on the matter.

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