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How AI-powered software spreads Russian disinformation on X
2024-07-10 15:14

The US Justice Department has seized two US-based domains used by Russian threat actors to create fake profiles on X that would spread disinformation in the United States and abroad. This bot farm was created and operated via Meliorator, an AI-enhanced software package.

"Development of the social media bot farm was organized by an individual identified in Russia. In early 2022, Individual A worked as the deputy editor-in-chief at RT, a state-run Russian news organization based in Moscow," the DoJ claims.

"Since at least 2022, RT leadership sought the development of alternative means for distributing information beyond RT's standard television news broadcasts. In response, Individual A led the development of software that was able to create and to operate a social media bot farm."

"The identified bot personas associated with the Meliorator tool are capable of deploying content similar to typical social media users, such as generating original posts, following other users, 'liking,' commenting, reposting, and obtaining followers; mirroring disinformation of other bot personas through their messaging, replies, reposts, and biographies; perpetuating the use of pre-existing false narratives to amplify Russian disinformation; and formulating messaging, to include the topic and framing, based on the specific archetype of the bot," they explained.

"In early 2023, with the approval and financial support of the Presidential Administration of Russia, a Russian FSB officer created and led a private intelligence organization, as explained in the affidavits. The P.I.O.'s membership was comprised of, among others, employees at RT, including Individual A. The true purpose of the P.I.O. was to advance the mission of the FSB and the Russian government, including by spreading disinformation through the social media accounts created by the bot farm. According to the affidavits, FSB Officer 1, Individual A, and other members of the PIO had access to the social media bot farm," the DoJ says.

The DoJ has searched nearly 1000 suspected X bot accounts, which have been consequently suspended by the social network for terms of service violations.

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