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China will use AI to disrupt elections in the US, South Korea and India, Microsoft warns

China will use AI to disrupt elections in the US, South Korea and India, Microsoft warns

Microsoft has issued a warning that China plans to disrupt elections in the US, South Korea, and India this year using artificial intelligence-generated content, following a trial run during the presidential election in Taiwan. According to Microsoft’s threat intelligence team, Chinese state-backed cyber groups, along with North Korea, are expected to target high-profile elections in 2024.

The tech giant predicts that China will produce and disseminate AI-generated content through social media platforms to advance its interests in these elections. While the current impact of such content on influencing audiences is minimal, Microsoft cautions that this could change as China further refines its AI capabilities.

The report notes that China previously attempted an AI-generated disinformation campaign during the Taiwan presidential election in January, marking the first instance of a state-backed entity using AI-made content to influence a foreign election. The Beijing-backed group known as Storm 1376, or Spamouflage, engaged in various tactics such as posting fake audio on YouTube and circulating AI-generated memes targeting candidates.

These efforts included spreading baseless accusations against the successful candidate, William Lai, using AI-generated TV news anchors to propagate disinformation. Microsoft reveals that these AI-generated news anchors were created using the CapCut tool developed by ByteDance, the parent company of TikTok.

Furthermore, Chinese groups are reportedly conducting influence campaigns in the US, employing social media accounts to pose divisive questions and gather intelligence on key voting demographics ahead of the US Presidential election. Microsoft highlights examples of such posts, which aim to sow discord and shape public opinion on sensitive issues.

The publication of Microsoft’s report coincides with revelations of security lapses that allowed state-backed Chinese cyber operators to breach email accounts of senior US officials. Additionally, both the US and UK governments have accused China-backed hackers of conducting a prolonged cyber campaign targeting various entities, including politicians, journalists, and businesses.

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