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Microsoft Warns of Advanced Chinese Disinformation Campaigns Targeting U.S. Social Media

Microsoft has issued a warning about advanced disinformation activities linked to Chinese state-aligned forces. These campaigns are now portraying themselves as U.S. voters and are increasingly targeting U.S. political figures on several social media networks.


According to a recent threat analysis report by the tech giant, “Digital threats from East Asia have escalated, with CCP-related concealed influence tactics showing heightened engagement with their target demographics on social platforms than ever before.”


The analysis highlights the increasing utilization of generative A.I. by these influence campaigns to produce compelling visual content, which seems to be resonating more with genuine users. This shift in tactics became more apparent starting March.


Historically, such Chinese-led campaigns found it challenging to resonate with their primary targets, i.e., U.S. citizens. However, post the 2022 midterm elections, their strategies seem to have evolved and become more impactful.


The increasing presence of foreign influence on social platforms, especially on platform X (previously Twitter), has alarmed many. Back in December, three Democratic House members sought details from X's owner, Elon Musk, regarding potential manipulative actions on the platform.


Chinese influence efforts have been spotted across various platforms like Facebook, Instagram (owned by Meta), LinkedIn (owned by Microsoft), and X. Notably, Meta reported in August about its disruption of a significant disinformation campaign, which it traced back to Chinese state-aligned entities.


Microsoft's report presented evidence in the form of two X posts from April, both discussing the Black Lives Matter movement and featuring an identical graphic. The initial post was from an automated account linked to the CCP, while the subsequent one, published seven hours later, was from a profile masquerading as a conservative U.S. voter.


The patterns observed in these campaigns bear resemblances to operations suspected to be directed by an elite unit within China’s security framework. Earlier this year, the Justice Department pointed to the '912 Special Working Group' as being responsible for an extensive harassment strategy aimed at Chinese individuals in the U.S. As a result, 44 individuals, including 34 officers from China’s Ministry of Public Security, faced charges.

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