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Wednesday, May 22, 2024
Wednesday May 22, 2024
Wednesday May 22, 2024

Microsoft election influence report: Decline in Russian and Chinese efforts

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Amidst the 2024 U.S. election cycle, Microsoft observes a reduction in propaganda and cyberattacks by Russia and China compared to previous elections

Microsoft has identified a noticeable decrease in the intensity of interference efforts by Russia and China aimed at shaping U.S. politics during the current election cycle, as opposed to more aggressive campaigns witnessed in the 2016 and 2020 elections. This assessment was detailed in a report released by the tech giant on Wednesday.

The report highlights that while these nations continue their attempts to influence American political dynamics, the scale and impact of their operations have diminished. Russia, in particular, is focusing its efforts on undermining U.S. support for Ukraine as the 2024 election approaches. According to Microsoft, there are active disinformation campaigns targeting Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and fostering scepticism among the American populace regarding their government’s backing of Ukraine amid its ongoing conflict with Russia.

These Russian-affiliated disinformation efforts are often propagated through English and Spanish content, purportedly by whistleblowers or amateur journalists. This content then gains traction on various websites that appear unaffiliated but are, in fact, influenced by the administration of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

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On the other hand, China’s tactics reportedly include the use of artificial intelligence to create and enhance images and videos designed to stoke controversy and amplify societal divisions within the U.S. An example provided by Microsoft includes AI-generated imagery of wildfires in Maui, which was used to spread conspiracy theories blaming the U.S. government for the disasters.

Despite the use of advanced technologies like AI, Microsoft notes that these efforts have not significantly swayed public opinion. The research indicated that simpler digital forgeries, particularly manipulated audio content, have been more effective in spreading misinformation. For instance, a manipulated audio message purportedly from U.S. President Joe Biden was circulated earlier this year, impacting voter perceptions during the New Hampshire Democratic primary.

Microsoft’s findings suggest that while the threat of foreign interference remains, the actual efficacy of complex disinformation campaigns using generative AI has been limited, with simpler tactics proving more disruptive.

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