US exposes alleged AI-driven Russian ‘bot farm’

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THE United States has uncovered an AI-powered information operation run from Russia involving about 1,000 social media accounts posing as Americans.

The accounts on X (formerly Twitter) were automated “bots” which were designed to spread pro-Russia stories.

According to BBC, the US Justice Department said in a court document that the operation was orchestrated by a deputy editor at Kremlin-owned RT, formerly Russia Today.

RT runs TV channels in English and several other languages, but has larger followers on social media than on conventional airwaves.

READ: OpenAI disrupts Israeli, Chinese, Russian influence campaigns

The US Justice department seized two websites that were used to issue emails associated with the bot accounts, and ordered X to turn over information relating to 968 accounts that investigators say were bots.

The court documents obtained by BBC show that the accounts, which were created by AI are used to spread pro-Russian story lines especially the war in Ukraine.

“Today’s actions represent a first in disrupting a Russian-sponsored generative AI-enhanced social media bot farm,” said FBI Director, Christopher Wray.

Ray said Russia intended to use this bot farm to disseminate AI-generated foreign disinformation, scaling their work with the assistance of AI to undermine Ukraine and influence geopolitical narratives favourable to the Russian government.

Findings by the FBI investigators indicated that the accounts which appear to have been deleted had very few followers.

The court documents detailed how the so-called “bot farm” was founded by an RT deputy editor-in-chief who was looking for new ways to disseminate stories.

RT America was shut down when several major US cable TV providers dropped it shortly after Russia invaded Ukraine in 2022.

Another RT employee developed the network, the court documents said, and later a Russian intelligence officer joined the effort, which the US Justice department described as an attempt “to sow discord in the United States by spreading misinformation”.

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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