U.S. and Allies Launch Crackdown on Russian Propaganda AI Bots!

  • Editor
  • July 10, 2024
    Updated
U.S.-and-Allies-Strike-Back-at-Russian-Bots-Fueling-Propaganda.

Key Takeaways:

  • The US government has successfully disrupted a Russian disinformation campaign leveraging AI-powered bots on the social media platform X (formerly Twitter).
  • The campaign involved nearly 1,000 fake profiles impersonating Americans to promote pro-Russian narratives, particularly concerning the conflict in Ukraine.
  • International collaboration played a crucial role in identifying and dismantling the bot farm, with significant contributions from cybersecurity agencies in Canada and the Netherlands.
  • The disruption highlights ongoing concerns about the use of AI in spreading disinformation and the importance of vigilance in protecting democratic processes.

The US government disrupted a Russian disinformation effort that used artificial intelligence-powered bots to create fake social media profiles on X, officials said on Tuesday.

According to court documents unsealed Tuesday by the Department of Justice, an editor at a Russian state media outlet developed software to create a bot farm as part of a project funded by a member of the Federal Security Service, or FSB.

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From June to December, nearly 1,000 accounts were part of a campaign that impersonated Americans and promoted pro-Russian government messaging.

Details of the Disinformation Campaign

One profile claimed to be a user based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, who joined X in June 2023. That account posted a purported video of Russian President Vladimir Putin saying that parts of Poland, Ukraine, and Lithuania became part of Russia following World War II.

Another profile identified as “Sue Williamson”, living in Gresham, Oregon, posted a video that disputed the number of foreign fighters embedded with Ukrainian troops.

According to the Justice Department, X voluntarily suspended the bot accounts identified in the court documents for terms of service violations. The company didn’t respond to a request for comment.

According to an affidavit included in the government filings, the bot farm was organized by an individual who worked in 2022 as the deputy editor-in-chief at RT, a Russian government-funded media agency. The documents didn’t disclose the identity of the individual.

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Involvement of RT and the FSB

That person continues to work at RT and, since 2023, has led a digital media department. That’s where the software for the bot farm was developed, according to the US.

According to the affidavit, a Russian intelligence officer approved and funded the project. “Farming is a beloved pastime for millions of Russians,” an RT spokesperson said in a statement.

People associated with the bot farm also transferred funds internationally to purchase two domain names from a US-based company in order to create private email servers, the court filings said.


Those were used to create email addresses that enabled the creation of at least 968 fictitious social media accounts, according to the US government.

“Russia intended to use this bot farm to disseminate AI-generated foreign disinformation, scaling their work with the assistance of AI to undermine our partners in Ukraine and influence geopolitical narratives favorable to the Russian government,” said FBI Director Christopher Wray in a statement.

Additionally, the FBI and partners, including the Canadian Centre for Cyber Security, the Netherlands General Intelligence and Security Service, and the Netherlands Police, released a joint cybersecurity advisory detailing the technology behind the social media bot farm.

This disruption is part of broader efforts by the US and its allies to counter foreign influence operations and safeguard democratic processes.

The sophisticated nature of the AI-enhanced disinformation campaign underscores the evolving threats posed by advanced technologies in information warfare.

For more news and trends, visit AI News on our website.

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Dave Andre

Editor

Digital marketing enthusiast by day, nature wanderer by dusk. Dave Andre blends two decades of AI and SaaS expertise into impactful strategies for SMEs. His weekends? Lost in books on tech trends and rejuvenating on scenic trails.

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