U.S. busts Russian AI bot farm spreading disinformation on X

The US Justice Department has revealed that it has taken action to dismantle a sophisticated information operation run by AI that was allegedly RussiaAccording to the department, about 1,000 accounts were involved in this action. Social Platform Xwho assumed American identity.

The operation is said to be linked to Russia’s state-run RT News network and managed by the country’s Federal Security Service. The aim behind it was to “spread misinformation to sow discord in the United States and elsewhere,” the report said. court documents,

These X accounts were allegedly created to spread pro-Russian propaganda. However, they were not operated by humans but rather automated “bots.” RT, formerly known as Russia Today, broadcasts in English among other languages ​​and is more influential online than through traditional broadcasting methods.

The initiative for this bot operation was reportedly linked to RT’s deputy editor-in-chief in 2022 and received support and funding from an official of the Federal Security Service, which is the primary successor to the KGB. The Justice Department also took control of two websites that assisted in managing the bot accounts and forced X to hand over details of 968 accounts that were believed to be bots.

Russian bot families are using AI

The FBI, in collaboration with Dutch intelligence and Canadian cybersecurity officials, warned, “MeleopterA tool that is capable of creating “authentic-looking social media personalities at scale”. It can also generate text and images, and echo misinformation from other bots.

Court documents revealed that AI was used to create accounts to spread anti-Ukrainian sentiment.

“Today’s action is the first to disrupt a Russian-sponsored generative AI-enhanced social media bot farm,” FBI Director Christopher Wray said.

“Russia’s intent was to use this bot farm to spread AI-generated foreign disinformation, amplifying its AI-assisted work to undermine our partners in Ukraine and influence geopolitical narratives in favor of the Russian government,” Wray said.

These accounts have since been deleted by X, and screenshots provided by FBI investigators showed that these accounts had very few followers.

Fake US ID

Washington Post reported a major flaw that allowed bots to circumvent X’s security measures. According to the news outlet, they could “copy-paste OTPs from their email accounts to log in.” The Justice Department pointed out that the use of U.S.-based domain names in this operation is a violation of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act. In addition, the financial transactions supporting these operations violate U.S. federal money laundering laws.

The fake X profile featured a bot named Ricardo Abbott, created using Russian bot farm technology
Screenshot of an alleged fake account shared by the FBI

Many of these fake profiles mimicked US identities, used American-sounding names, and specified locations across the US on X. These profiles typically featured headshots against a gray background, which appeared to have been created using AI, the Justice Department reported.

For example, a profile named Ricardo Abbott, claiming to be from Minneapolis, circulated a video of Russian President Vladimir Putin defending Russia’s involvement in Ukraine. Another person named Sue Williamson shared a video of Putin explaining that the conflict in Ukraine is not about territory but about “the principles on which the new world order will be based.” These posts were subsequently liked and shared by fellow bots within the network.

Information from the Department of Justice showed that linked email accounts can be created if the user owns an Internet domain. For example, control over the www.example.com domain can create email addresses such as [email protected] to be opened.

In this case, the criminals managed and used the domain names “mlrtr.com” and “otanmail.com,” both registered through a US-based service, to set up email servers that supported the creation of fake social media accounts through their bot farm technology.

Featured Image: Canva / Ideogram