Social media platforms involved, possibly including Facebook and Twitter.
Concerns arise over foreign influence and manipulation.
Microsoft researchers have reported the discovery of a network of suspected fake social media accounts believed to be under Chinese control, employing artificial intelligence to influence US voters. The Chinese embassy spokesperson in Washington has dismissed these allegations, describing them as “full of prejudice and malicious speculation,” and emphasizing China’s commitment to the safe use of AI.
According to Microsoft’s research report, these social media accounts are linked to a suspected Chinese information operation that shares similarities with activities previously attributed to an elite group within China’s Ministry of Public Security by the US Department of Justice. While the report doesn’t specify the affected social media platforms, screenshots in the report suggest Facebook and Twitter (now known as X).
This discovery highlights the complex landscape of social media as the United States prepares for the 2024 presidential election. The US government has previously accused Russia of interfering in the 2016 election through covert social media campaigns and has warned of continued efforts by China, Russia, and Iran to influence American voters.
The report offered limited examples of recent activity and didn’t provide an in-depth explanation of how the researchers attributed these posts to China. Microsoft clarified that its researchers used a multifaceted attribution model relying on technical evidence, behavioral evidence, and contextual evidence.
The campaign, which began in March 2023, utilized generative artificial intelligence technology to create politically charged content in English that aimed to mimic US voters. This generative AI can create various media types, including images and text. The content produced in this campaign was more visually appealing and sophisticated compared to earlier efforts by Chinese nation-state actors, which often relied on digital drawings and manual graphic designs.
One example cited in the report is an AI-generated image depicting the Statue of Liberty holding an assault rifle with the caption “Everything is being thrown away. THE GODDESS OF VIOLENCE.” The identified accounts attempted to appear American by listing their public location as within the United States, posting American political slogans, and using domestic political hashtags.
In related news, Chinese tech giant Tencent recently unveiled its chatbot called “Hunyuan Aide,” which it claims has capabilities comparable to top US rival ChatGPT. Tencent’s move follows Baidu’s introduction of the ERNIE Bot. These developments come amid fresh Chinese regulations aimed at fostering domestic AI development while maintaining strict control over online information, allowing China to compete with global players like OpenAI and Microsoft.
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