US says it disrupted Russian AI bot farm on X

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The United States has disrupted a Russian disinformation campaign involving AI-powered bots used to create fake profiles on the social media platform X, the Justice Department said Tuesday.

Officials seized two internet domains and searched 968 social media accounts that Russian operatives allegedly used to create an artificial intelligence “bot farm” and peddle disinformation in the United States and other countries, the department said in a statement.

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“The social media bot farm used elements of AI to create fictitious social media profiles -- often purporting to belong to individuals in the United States -- which the operators then used to promote messages in support of Russian government objectives,” the statement said.

The US actions “represent a first in disrupting a Russian-sponsored Generative AI-enhanced social media bot farm,” said FBI Director Christopher Wray.

The campaign -- aimed at sowing “discord in the United States and elsewhere” -- was developed by a senior editor of RT, a Russian state-owned media outlet, financed by the Kremlin and aided by an officer of Russia’s FSB security service, the Justice Department said.

US officials have warned of efforts by foreign powers, including Russia, to meddle in the American presidential election in November.

Tech campaigners have voiced concern that the integrity of key elections around the world this year could be threatened by rapid advancements in cyber-tech, particularly AI, and increasing friction among major powers.

US President Joe Biden kicked off a NATO summit Tuesday in Washington aimed at showing resolve against Russia and support for Ukraine, which Moscow invaded in February 2022.

The Justice Department said several false narratives were peddled by the bot farm on X.

Those included a video by a purported Minneapolis resident that showed Russian President Vladimir Putin asserting that areas of Ukraine, Poland and Lithuania were “gifts” to those countries from liberating Russian forces during World War II.

“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.

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