China Suspected of Using AI on Social Media to Influence US Voters, Microsoft Reveals
Updated: Jan 8
Microsoft researchers have uncovered a network of fake social media accounts believed to be controlled by China, using artificial intelligence (AI) to sway US voters.
The accounts were part of a suspected Chinese information operation, similar to previous activity attributed to an elite group within China's Ministry of Public Security, according to Microsoft.
While the researchers did not specify the affected platforms, screenshots in their report showed posts from what appeared to be Facebook and Twitter. The findings come as the US prepares for the 2024 presidential election, with concerns about foreign interference.
A Chinese embassy spokesperson in Washington dismissed the accusations, stating that they were "full of prejudice and malicious speculation." The spokesperson emphasised that China advocates for the safe use of AI. Microsoft's research report, however, points to a campaign that began in March 2023, utilising generative AI technology to create politically charged content in English, aiming to mimic US voters. This content is described as more visually appealing than previous campaigns by Chinese actors, which relied on manual graphic designs.
The report provided limited examples of recent activity and did not elaborate on how the researchers attributed the posts to China. A Microsoft spokesperson explained that their researchers used a "multifaceted attribution model" based on technical evidence, behavioral evidence and contextual evidence. The identified accounts attempted to appear American by listing their public location as within the United States, posting American political slogans and using hashtags related to domestic political issues.
The use of AI in social media manipulation raises concerns about the integrity of democratic processes and the potential for foreign interference. The US government has previously accused Russia of meddling in the 2016 election through covert social media campaigns and has warned of similar efforts by China, Russia and Iran. As technology continues to advance, it becomes increasingly important to develop robust strategies to detect and counter such manipulative tactics.
Microsoft researchers have discovered a network of fake social media accounts believed to be controlled by China, using AI to influence US voters.
The campaign bears similarities to previous activity attributed to an elite group within China's Ministry of Public Security.
The researchers did not specify the affected platforms, but screenshots in their report showed posts from what appeared to be Facebook and Twitter.