Published in AI

Microsoft warns about AI election trolls

by on03 April 2024

Fakes deep and shallow will hijack votes

Top Vole Clint Watts of Microsoft's Threat Analysis Center has issued a stark warning: Trolls are harnessing the power of AI to manipulate votes, posing a significant threat to democratic processes.

He wanted the 2024 election cycle to be packed with fakes—some deep, most shallow, but the no-frills cons will zip around the net before the truth has got its trousers on.

More than ten years ago Watts' team clocked the first Russki netizen masquerading as Uncle Sam. "We nabbed 'em with Microsoft Excel!" he chuckled.

From testing dubious videos on their own turf to sowing discord in Ukraine, Syria, and Libya, these trolls have embarked on a global campaign of deception. 'Back in 2016, it was all about Twitter or Facebook trolls linking to blogspot sites,' Watts reflects. In 2020, YouTube was a new battleground. And now? It's video villainy across the globe.'

Watts and his team of digital detectives are on the tail of shady squads from Russia, Iran, China – you name it. And just nine moons ago, they took a nosedive into how these crafty crews use AI to swing elections.

The latest Russian ruse is to slap a legit news logo on a picture and watch the shares skyrocket.

Watts shares insights on the challenges of spotting fakes. Public videos with prominent figures at rallies? Hard to fake. But a clip of your local MP in their office? A piece of cake. 'Videos are a tough nut to crack, but text? Boring,' he jests. 'But be alert for AI audio – it's the real deal, and there are no obvious signs.'

"The most effective stuff is real, a little bit of fake, and then real," blending it in to change it just a little bit – that's hard to fact check," he said. "When you're looking at private settings and audio, with a mix of real and fake, that's a powerful tool that can be used" for election interference."

Last modified on 03 April 2024
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