In a concerning turn of events, Communist China has once again attempted to interfere with American democracy, this time employing sophisticated artificial intelligence (AI) robots. Tech behemoth Microsoft has exposed a covert network of fake social media accounts controlled by China, posing as ordinary American voters while disseminating political propaganda.
This operation bears eerie similarities to past Chinese election manipulation efforts orchestrated by the Ministry of Public Security. This AI-driven assault on democracy harnesses the power of generative AI to replicate American voters and produce social media content far more convincing than China’s previous attempts, which often relied on crude digital drawings and stock photo collages.
Microsoft has identified the use of diffusion-powered image generators, AI systems that not only create compelling images but also learn to enhance their effectiveness over time. These AI bots are primarily engaged in a broad campaign, focusing on divisive political topics, such as gun violence, and disparaging American political figures and symbols.
For instance, one AI-generated image depicted the Statue of Liberty brandishing an assault rifle with the caption, “Everything is being thrown away. THE GODDESS OF VIOLENCE.” Another example involved a Black Lives Matter (BLM) poster, purportedly created by a “Chinese Communist Party-affiliated automated account” and shared by an account masquerading as a U.S. conservative voter.
Fortunately, the majority of these fraudulent accounts are easily identifiable as fakes. Chinese propaganda, like cheap knockoff products, is often poorly disguised. However, there is a growing concern that China’s AI bots could proliferate across the internet, disseminating what some consider “fake news” or “propaganda.”
While American propaganda, emanating from various political spectrums, can be persuasive, Microsoft appears more preoccupied with China’s efforts. Generative AI has the potential to evolve into an indiscernible propaganda machine that could influence American elections and society at large.
Researchers have noted that Chinese influence networks are becoming more adept at responding to human interactions, increasing the likelihood that people may mistake these fake bot accounts for genuine opinions. Microsoft’s spokesperson revealed that many China-linked accounts attempted to appear American by listing U.S. locations, sharing American political slogans, and employing hashtags related to domestic political issues.
The top three subjects of Chinese hacking activity in 2023 included the South China Sea, the U.S. defense industrial base, and U.S. critical infrastructure. Chinese troll farms are increasingly active across the internet, fomenting division and discord in America, even resorting to posting racist comments.
It’s crucial for Americans to remain vigilant in the face of foreign interference and safeguard the integrity of their democratic processes.