On Thursday, researchers from Microsoft announced they had discovered a network of fake, Chinese-controlled social media accounts designed to influence U.S. voters via artificial intelligence.
The corporation said their researchers used a “multifaceted attribution model” that incorporates “technical evidence, behavioral evidence, and contextual evidence,” according to a Reuters report citing a Microsoft spokeswoman.
In response to the allegations, a spokesperson for the Chinese embassy in Washington DC stated such claims are “full of prejudice and malicious speculation” and that China promotes the responsible application of AI.
According to Microsoft’s latest research report, the social media profiles in question were part of a Chinese information operation. Similarities were also found between the campaign and actions linked by the US Department of Justice to “an elite group within (China’s) Ministry of Public Security,” Microsoft added.
Screenshots in the report showed what seemed to be posts from Facebook and Twitter, although the researchers did not specify which social media platforms were impacted.
As Americans gear up for the 2024 presidential election, the report depicts a tense social media atmosphere.
The Chinese Communist campaign in March 2023 started using generative AI technology to create politically charged content in English and “mimic U.S. voters,” according to Microsoft.
Images, text, and other forms of media can all be generated from scratch using generative AI.
Much more “eye-catching than the awkward visuals used in previous campaigns by Chinese nation-state actors, which relied on digital drawings, stock photo collages, and other manual graphic designs,” the researchers noted of the new content.
The tabloid used an AI-generated image with the text “Everything is being thrown away” and a picture of Lady Liberty holding an assault rifle, which Microsoft said originated from a Chinese account. SATANA, THE VIOLENCE GODDESS. Another post about Black Lives Matter, was uploaded by a fake account “impersonating a conservative U.S. voter,” according to NBC News.
According to a Microsoft official, the accounts in question made an effort to give the impression that they were American by using American political slogans and publishing hashtags related to domestic political topics.
In 2022, Meta claimed it had taken down Chinese communist attempts to meddle in the 2022 mid-term elections.
At the time, users posed as conservative Americans, promoting gun rights and opposition to abortion, while criticizing President Biden. But by April, the fake accounts paraded as liberals from Florida, Texas and California, opposing guns and promoting reproductive rights.
In August, Rep. Don Bacon of Nebraska and the FBI announced his email account was hacked in an alleged Chinese espionage campaign.