Bot Farm Bust: US Cracks Down On Alleged Russian AI Operation Spreading Disinformation

US authorities have taken action against an AI-driven information operation linked to Russia, targeting nearly 1,000 accounts posing as Americans. These accounts on X platform aimed to propagate pro-Russia narratives but were automated bots, not genuine individuals.

US authorities have taken action against an AI-driven information operation linked to Russia, targeting nearly 1,000 accounts posing as Americans. These accounts on X platform aimed to propagate pro-Russia narratives but were automated bots, not genuine individuals.

In court filings released on Tuesday, the US Justice Department disclosed that the operation was orchestrated by a deputy editor at RT, the Kremlin-owned media outlet. While RT operates TV channels in multiple languages, it has garnered more attention on social media than traditional broadcast platforms.

As part of their intervention, the Justice Department seized two websites used for issuing emails linked to the bot accounts and demanded X to provide information on 968 accounts identified as bots by investigators. According to the legal documents, artificial intelligence technology was utilized to establish these accounts, which subsequently disseminated pro-Russian content, particularly concerning the conflict in Ukraine.

“Today’s actions represent a first in disrupting a Russian-sponsored generative AI-enhanced social media bot farm,” said FBI Director Christopher Wray.

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“Russia intended to use this bot farm to disseminate AI-generated foreign disinformation, scaling their work with the assistance of AI to undermine our partners in Ukraine and influence geopolitical narratives favorable to the Russian government,” Mr Wray said in a statement.

The accounts have since been removed by X, and screenshots provided by FBI investigators indicated they had very limited followers. According to court documents, the “bot farm” was initiated by an RT deputy editor-in-chief seeking innovative methods to disseminate stories. RT America ceased operations after major US cable TV providers dropped it following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022.

The court filings revealed that another RT employee expanded the network, later joined by a Russian intelligence officer. The US Justice Department described their actions as an effort “to sow discord in the United States by spreading misinformation.” While no criminal charges have been disclosed, the Justice Department emphasized that their investigation remains ongoing.

Nina Jankowicz, head of the American Sunlight Project, a non-profit organization combating disinformation, commented that it’s unsurprising a Russia-linked operation utilized AI to generate fake accounts.

“This used to be one of the more time consuming parts of their work; now it has been made much smoother by the technologies that abetted this operation,” She remarked, observing that the operation seemed to have been foiled before gaining significant traction.

“Artificial intelligence is now clearly part of the disinformation arsenal,” Ms Jankowicz said.