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Chinese influence campaign fuels disunity ahead of US election, study finds| GuyWhoKnowsThings

A Chinese influence campaign that has tried for years to advance Beijing's interests is using artificial intelligence and a network of social media accounts to amplify American discontent and division ahead of the US presidential election, according to a new report.

The campaign, known as Spamouflage, hopes to generate disenchantment among voters by smearing the United States as plagued by urban decay, homelessness, fentanyl abuse, gun violence and crumbling infrastructure, according to the report, released Thursday by the Strategy Institute. Strategic. Dialogue, a non-profit research organization in London.

An additional goal, according to the report, is to convince the international public that the United States is in a state of chaos.

Artificially generated images, some of them also edited with tools like Photoshop, have fueled the idea that the November vote will damage and potentially destroy the country.

A post on Other images showed the two men facing each other, cracks in the White House or the Statue of Liberty, and terminology such as “CIVIL WAR,” “INTERNAL STRUGGLE,” and “THE COLLAPSE OF AMERICAN DEMOCRACY.”

The narratives did not appear to have any obviously partisan slant, although Biden was the subject of multiple negative portrayals, including references to his son. Hunter Biden's legal problems and claims that the president is a drug user. Spamouflage's attitude toward Trump was more ambiguous; Posts claiming that his “antihero status makes him unstoppable” could be interpreted as flattering. Both men were described as too old to govern.

Across the “hyperpolarized divide” in the United States, China sensed an opportunity, said Elise Thomas, a senior analyst at the institute who wrote the report. Spamaouflage's focus on social conflict and antagonism in the US presidential race could also indicate how Beijing hopes to shape the many other important elections that will take place in the world this year.

“In this narrative universe, American democracy is presented as a source of discord and weakness,” Thomas said in a statement. “They are trying to create a sense of a sclerotic and disorganized superpower, unable to solve its internal problems and unable to act as a leader on the international stage.”

Spamouflage has been active since at least 2017, Thomas wrote in the report, adding that the campaign is “infamous among researchers for both its enormous size and its inability to generate notable engagement from real social media users.” . Meta, owner of Facebook and Instagram, said last summer that it had deleted thousands of social media accounts and hundreds of pages linked to the campaign. Meta researchers linked the campaign to Chinese law enforcement.

Thursday's report focused on Spamouflage's posts on proliferated much more easily in X.

Researchers at New York University's Stern Center for Business and Human Rights warned in their report on digital risks to this year's elections that the main threat in the 2024 election came less from AI-generated content and had more to do with the distribution of false, hateful information and violent material. He reportwhich was published on Wednesday, said such content was more prevalent because numerous social media platforms, including Facebook and YouTube, had backed away from some of their past commitments related to election integrity.

The researchers highlighted X and said that since Elon Musk took office in late 2022, much of the platform's election team has been removed, toxic content has increased and other social media companies have used the volatility as an excuse to let their guard down.

The researchers also noted that political polarization in the United States would likely tempt China and others to try to sow confusion among voters.

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