Jason Cohen on September 7, 2023
China-aligned cyber influence operations (IO) have gotten more effective and have started focusing on particular U.S. political candidates as well as pretending to be American voters, according to a report Microsoft published on Thursday.
The Chinese IO were previously known for using large amounts of content to connect with social media users, but recently have become more specific, according to the report. The level of direct interaction by IO has increased since 2022, and China has deployed them in American elections, imitating voters with differing political views and “create[ing] controversy,” according to a Microsoft blog post about the report.
“China has become more effective at engaging social media users with IO in the past year,” the report states. “Chinese online influence campaigns have long relied on sheer volume to reach users through networks of inauthentic social media accounts. Since 2022, however, China-aligned social media networks have engaged directly with authentic users on social media, targeted specific candidates in content about US elections, and posed as American voters.”
Moreover, China has started utilizing artificial intelligence (AI) to produce content, and has received increased interaction recently, according to the report. The images “are more eye-catching than awkward visual content in previous campaigns,” and social media users have reposted them more often.
“China’s state-affiliated multilingual social media influencer initiative has successfully engaged target audiences in at least 40 languages and grown its audience to over 103 million,” according to the report.
Tech giant Meta thwarted a massive Chinese online influence operation, it stated in its “quarterly adversarial threat report” in August. The company eliminated thousands of pages and accounts that participated in what it asserts was the largest ever multi-platform propaganda campaign.
Microsoft did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.