China using social media, AI to spread misinformation and influence elections – Report


A report by Microsoft has revealed how Chinese-affiliated actors are using social media and AI-generated content in an attempt to influence geopolitics.

In a post published on Thursday, April 6, the Microsoft Threat Analysis Center’s general manager, Clint Watts said fake social media accounts are being used to “sow division and possibly influence the outcome of the US presidential election”.

The US-based multinational also said Chinese actors have also used AI-generated content in recent months to influence the perception of certain topics but there is “little evidence” that it has worked.

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They included photos of Chinese-affiliated social media accounts that commented on divisive political topics in the US such as immigration, drugs, and race.

Microsoft also noted an increase in voter polling questions as the US presidential race, which will be held in November, ramps up.

Some of the content tried to give credence to conspiracy theories or portray the US in a bad light, the company added.

The content included false claims linking the US government to wildfires in Hawaii and a train derailment in Kentucky.

Several official investigations into the cause of the Maui wildfires are ongoing while the train derailment was found to be caused by a failed wheel.

Microsoft said it also included AI-generated content to influence Taiwan’s presidential election in January 2024 and posts that “amplified outrage over Japan’s disposal of nuclear wastewater”.

Operations attributed to Chinese-backed actor Storm-1736 notably tried to cast doubt on the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) finding that Japan’s plans to release treated water from the Fukushima Daiichi plant were consistent with safety standards.

Microsoft warned that as major elections take place this year, China will “create and amplify AI-generated content to benefit its interests”.

They also highlighted North Korean cyber operations in its report, which included cryptocurrency theft and software supply-chain attacks.

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Nurudeen Akewushola is a fact-checker with FactCheckHub. He has authored several fact checks which have contributed to the fight against information disorder. You can reach him via [email protected] and @NurudeenAkewus1 via Twitter.


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