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Microsoft believes China-aligned actors are using AI-generated images to sway US voters

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With the 2024 US presidential primaries just months away, a recent report from Microsoft states that China-aligned organizations are trying to spread disinformation on key issues to influence US voters through local social media networks.

in a blog post, the company announced a new report from the Microsoft Threat Analysis Center (MTAC). the report, in PDF format, will be part of an ongoing MTAC series examining current cyber threats by different groups in different regions of the world. In this case, this week’s report examines threats based in East Asia, including China.

Microsoft stated in the report:

Since around March 2023, some suspicious Chinese IO properties on Western social networks have started leveraging artificial intelligence (AI) to create visual content. This relatively high quality visual content has already attracted higher levels of engagement from authentic social media users. These images bear the hallmarks of diffusion-powered imagery and are more eye-catching than awkward visual content in previous campaigns.

Microsoft’s blog post about this report adds that it expects China to continue to improve and refine its AI-generated social media images in the future, but it is currently unknown “how and when it will deploy it at scale.”

Microsoft revealed earlier this summer that the China-affiliated hacker group known as Storm-0558 was able to gain access to US and European government email accounts. Microsoft recently acknowledged that the group was able to obtain an MSA key to gain access to those accounts due to more than one flaw in its security practices. The company claims because it took measures to close these security holes.

In August, Microsoft sent out a warning about another group of actors based in China called Flax Typhoon. The company said this hacker group has been running espionage campaigns into Taiwan since 2021.

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