Microsoft Security reports that Chinese operatives are currently using artificial intelligence (AI) to create images that resemble American voters. The goal is to spread disinformation and ignite discussions on divisive political subjects as the 2024 U.S. elections approach.
AI-Generated Images on Social Media
Chinese operatives have been deploying AI-generated images on social media platforms. These images, which include depictions of the Statue of Liberty and the Black Lives Matter movement, aim to denigrate U.S. political figures and symbols. Although these images are computer-generated, real individuals have shared and propagated them on social media platforms. Microsoft identifies these accounts as having affiliations with the Chinese Communist Party.
Election Concerns Rise
Election officials express growing concerns over the potential misuse of AI by adversaries to disseminate disinformation among U.S. voters. The upcoming potential 2024 face-off between President Joe Biden and former president Donald Trump adds to these concerns. Clint Watts, general manager of Microsoft's Digital Threat Analysis Center, mentions in a blog that China is expected to refine this technology over time.
China Responds to Allegations
In response to Microsoft's findings, Liu Pengyu, a spokesperson for the Chinese Embassy in Washington, DC, told CNN that accusations against China are based on prejudice and speculation. He stated that such remarks against China, which suggest the country is using AI to create fake social media accounts, are “full of prejudice and malicious speculation”.
Microsoft's Report Highlights
Microsoft's Threat Analysis Center has released a report detailing the threats posed by influence operations and cyber activities. The report emphasizes the need for both public and private sectors to address the weaponization of technology, including AI.
China continues its efforts to spread state-sponsored propaganda and improve its global image. The Chinese government reaches out to global audiences in multiple languages and on various platforms. Microsoft's report highlights that China employs state media employees and affiliates who act as social media influencers. These influencers reach a vast audience across various platforms and languages.
Google Demands Disclosure of AI Political Ads
Google has announced that from mid-November 2023, political advertisers must prominently disclose if their advertisements feature artificial intelligence content showcasing real or seemingly real individuals or events. The policy covers different kinds of content like images, videos, and audio.
What does AI content mean? It means that the content has been changed by artificial intelligence in some way. Some changes are small and do not affect the message of the ad. For example, changing the size, shape, color, or quality of an image. Or fixing some flaws like removing the redness from someone's eyes. Or changing the background to something else that does not make the image look fake. These changes do not need to be disclosed.
But some changes are big and do affect the message of the ad. For example, making someone say or do something that they never said or did. Or changing or creating a video of an event that never happened. These changes need to be disclosed clearly and visibly.