First, to settle any doubts: China is definitely doing this. Last year, The Drill Down reported on massive social media operations being run by China in order to spin their perception on the international stage and target enemies (like the U.S.) with disinformation campaigns.
From The Drill Down last November:
According to a new security audit from cybersecurity firm Mandiant, China is making “aggressive attempts to discredit the U.S. democratic process, including attempts to discourage Americans from voting in the 2022 U.S. midterm elections.”
The operation is called “Dragonbridge.”
The Free Beacon reports that the CCP’s Dragonbridge operation has similar hallmarks to those of other foreign actors, Like Iran and Russia. Dragonbridge, through a network of anonymous online social media accounts is promoting “narratives that appeared intended to discredit and undermine the U.S. political system.”
Now, Microsoft employees are sounding the alarm on China’s use of AI to spin social media narratives.
In the last nine months, the operatives have posted striking AI-made images depicting the Statute of Liberty and the Black Lives Matter movement on social media, in a campaign that Microsoft said focuses on “denigrating U.S. political figures and symbols.”
The alleged Chinese influence network used a series of accounts on “Western” social media platforms to upload the AI-generated images, according to Microsoft. The images were fake and generated by a computer, but real people, whether wittingly or unwittingly, propagated the images by reposting them on social media, Microsoft said.
“We can expect China to continue to hone this technology over time and improve its accuracy, though it remains to be seen how and when it will deploy it at scale,” Clint Watts, general manager of Microsoft’s Digital Threat Analysis Center, wrote in a blog.
China, of course, denies the whole enterprise is even going down.
“In recent years, some Western media and think tanks have accused China of using artificial intelligence to create fake social media accounts to spread so-called ‘pro-China’ information,” Liu Pengyu, spokesperson for the Chinese Embassy in Washington, DC, said in an email to CNN when asked for comment on the Microsoft report. “Such remarks are full of prejudice and malicious speculation against China, which China firmly opposes.”
There you have it: if China says they aren’t doing something, they are.