Feds Uncover Sprawling, GenAI-Enabled Russian Troll Farm

The bot farm was created using AI-enhanced software that was able to create a host of different false personas to spread disinformation in convincing and unsettling ways.

Dark Reading Staff, Dark Reading

July 10, 2024

1 Min Read
Seven hooded figured behind laptops in front of a background of the Russian flag
Source: vchal via Alamy Stock Photo

The Justice Department has announced the seizure of two domain names as well as nearly 1,000 social media accounts used by Russian actors to create and spread disinformation in the United States.

US agencies including the FBI and Cyber National Mission Force (CNMF), alongside agencies in Canada and the Netherlands, released a joint advisory detailing the influence operation and the technology used, revealing an GenAI-enhanced, social media-focused bot farm used to support Russian government objectives. 

According the advisory, affiliates of Russia Today, a Russian state-sponsored media organization, used Meliorator, an AI-enhanced software package, to create online personas reflecting varying people of different nationalities to post disinformation regarding countries that include the US, Poland, Germany, and the Netherlands.

Meliorator is capable of creating authentic-looking social media profiles, mimicking realistic social media content, mirroring disinformation of other bots, automatically perpetuating false narratives, and formulating messages based on the type of bot using it. The authoring agencies are urging social media companies to identify this kind of troll activity to help reduce the volume of Russia's disinformation campaigns. 

"Today's actions represent a first in disrupting a Russian-sponsored Generative AI-enhanced social media bot farm," FBI Director Christopher Wray said. "Russia intended to use this bot farm to disseminate AI-generated foreign disinformation, scaling their work with the assistance of AI to undermine our partners in Ukraine and influence geopolitical narratives favorable to the Russian government."

The social media accounts that were used were registered using private email servers that depended on the two domain names that the FBI was able to seize. Social media platform X has suspended the remaining bot accounts that were identified in court documents, due to violations of the terms of service. 

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Dark Reading Staff

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