Researchers from Microsoft, RAND Corporation, NewsGuard and other bodies allege that China was behind a “flurry of false posts that spread across the Internet” claiming that deadly wildfires that struck Maui in Hawaii last month were “the result of a secret ‘weather weapon’ tested by the United States, according to a report by the New York Times yesterday (Sept 11), which added that the posts carried photos “that appeared to have been generated by artificial intelligence”, to make them look more authentic.
Previous “influence campaigns” by China had focused on amplifying its propaganda and policies on Taiwan and other topics, whereas these efforts were “more direct attempts to sow discord in the United States”, the report said, noting that while there was no evidence of Russia and China working together in this campaign the two allies often “echo each other’s messages when criticizing US policies”.
Analysts suggested a new era of disinformation was starting, with conspiracy theories and other claims bolstered by the use of AI tools.
A subsequent report by Gizmodo said researchers found the “salacious Chinese disinformation campaign” on 85 social media accounts and blogs, adding that “conspiracy-laden content was written in 15 different languages and appeared on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and around a dozen other platforms.”
It noted that “there’s no evidence the US military is working on, or could even theoretically produce, a weapon capable of summoning fires and floods on command.”
Read the full reports: The New York Times.