May 23, 2024
Microsoft Warns of Chinese AI Influence in US Elections

Microsoft Warns of Chinese AI Influence in US Elections

Microsoft’s latest report reveals China’s strategy of employing AI-generated media to influence elections not only in East Asian countries but also in the United States. Released by Microsoft Threat Intelligence on Friday, the report underscores instances where Chinese propaganda actors have utilized AI-generated memes, videos, and audio to provoke outrage and manipulate electoral outcomes in East Asia.

Impact on Elections and Government Perception

The report outlines how Chinese-government-linked accounts have disseminated AI-generated media to incite chaos and discord within the US. For instance, AI-generated images blaming the 2023 Hawaii fires on a US-manufactured “weather weapon” were circulated, alongside content aiming to foster mistrust in the government following incidents like the Kentucky train derailment in November.

Furthermore, many of these Chinese social media posts prompt followers to express their support for specific presidential candidates, hinting at a broader intelligence-gathering strategy targeting key voter demographics in the US.

Assessment and Comparison to Previous Tactics

While the threat level is currently deemed low, Microsoft warns that China’s utilization of AI-generated media could prove increasingly effective in the future. This assessment echoes concerns raised in a previous threat assessment by the US Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which highlighted China’s objectives to undermine democracy and cast doubt on US leadership.

Both Microsoft’s report and the US government’s assessment draw parallels to Russia’s tactics in the 2016 elections, where troll farms disseminated election disinformation. The emergence of “Spamouflage” or “Storm-1376” accounts, associated with the Chinese Communist Party, mirrors the divisive content-sharing strategies observed during Russia’s influence campaign.

The convergence of AI technology and propaganda underscores the evolving landscape of election interference, with China adopting similar tactics to those previously employed by Russia. As geopolitical tensions persist, the role of AI-generated media in shaping public opinion and electoral outcomes remains a critical concern for governments and tech companies alike.

Image by on Freepik

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