Wray: Russia's AI-Fueled Disinformation Is Disrupted

It's the first success against a Kremlin-backed social media bot farm, US says
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 9, 2024 6:45 PM CDT
Wray: Russia's AI-Fueled Disinformation Is Disrupted
Russian President Vladimir Putin congratulates graduates of higher military schools of the Defense and Emergencies ministries, the Federal Security Service, the Federal Guard Service, the Federal Service of National Guard Troops, the Interior Ministry, the Investigative Committee, and the Federal Penitentiary...   (Mikhail Sinitsyn, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

A Russian propaganda campaign backed by the Kremlin that spread online disinformation in the US and was boosted by artificial intelligence has been disrupted, the Justice Department said Tuesday. US officials described the internet operation as part of an ongoing effort to sow discord through the creation of fictitious social media profiles that purport to belong to authentic Americans but are actually designed to advance the aims of the Russian government, including by spreading disinformation about its war with Ukraine. "Today's actions represent a first in disrupting a Russian-sponsored Generative AI-enhanced social media bot farm," FBI Director Christopher Wray said in a statement, per the AP.

US officials said the scheme was organized in 2022 after a senior editor at RT, a media organization funded by Russia that has registered with the Justice Department as a foreign agent, helped develop technology for the bot farm. It received support from the Kremlin, with an officer of Russia's Federal Security Service leading a private intelligence organization that promoted disinformation on social media through fake accounts. The RT press office did not respond directly to a question about the allegations. US officials have raised alarms about the potential for AI technology to impact this year's elections and concerns that foreign influence campaigns could sway unsuspecting voters—as happened during the 2016 presidential campaign when Russians launched a huge but hidden social media trolling campaign aimed in part at helping Republican Donald Trump defeat Democrat Hillary Clinton.

"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," Wray said. Among the fakes, according to the Justice Department, was a video that was posted by a purported Minneapolis resident that showed Russian President Vladimir Putin saying that areas of Ukraine, Poland, and Lithuania were "gifts" to those countries from liberating Russian forces during World War II. According to a joint advisory released Tuesday by US, Dutch and Canadian authorities, the software was used to spread disinformation to countries including Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, Ukraine, and Israel.

(More artificial intelligence stories.)

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