Canada warns Russian ‘bot farm’ uses AI to spread disinformation online – National

Canadian security officials are warning of a Russian propaganda campaign that used the social media site X to spread disinformation online.

According to the Canadian Centre for Cybersecurity, individuals affiliated with RT, formerly known as Russia Today, are operating a social media bot farm on behalf of the Russian government.

Officials say fake social media users are being created to spread disinformation in the United States and abroad.

According to them, the accounts often pretended to be Americans and spread messages supporting the goals of the Russian government.

When asked to comment on the claims, RT’s news agency said: “Farming is a favorite pastime for millions of Russians.”

Canada, the US and the Netherlands have worked to disrupt the disinformation campaign, but government officials warn that similar activity could emerge on other social media sites.

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U.S. officials said 968 social media accounts were identified as being used by Russian actors. X has since suspended those accounts.

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Last month, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg warned during a visit to Canada that disinformation poses a threat to the defensive alliance and its efforts to arm Ukraine against a Russian invasion.

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“Disinformation is a big challenge because we see Russia fueling disinformation in many ways. We also see China doing that,” Stoltenberg told The Canadian Press.

“So we have to be very aware of the risk.”

While it is the government’s job to counter disinformation, an independent and free press is still the best way to protect us from it, Stoltenberg said.

The warning about the Russian propaganda campaign also comes as U.S. and Canadian officials grapple with how to counter foreign attempts to disrupt elections using AI and disinformation.

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This week, NATO leaders are in Washington DC for their annual summit and to celebrate the alliance’s 75th anniversary. Ukraine and aid to the country are at the heart of the talks.

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“As the Russian government continues to wage its brutal war in Ukraine and threaten democracies around the world, the Department of Justice will continue to use all of our legal powers to counter Russian aggression and protect the American people,” U.S. Attorney General Merrick B. Garland said in a statement.

Speaking at the Canadian Embassy in Washington on Tuesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said cybersecurity is one of the biggest threats to the alliance’s security.

“We need to have a clear view of the current state of affairs in the world,” he said.

“We live in an increasingly dangerous, unstable and complex world. Cyberwarfare, rising authoritarian forces, growing regional conflicts and everywhere the increasing impact of climate change all pose growing threats to our collective security and continued prosperity.”

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Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022, Canada’s broadcasting regulator has banned state broadcaster RT and RT France from the air.

The Canadian Radio, Television and Telecommunications Commission ruled at the time that the broadcasters’ content was “not in the public interest” because it exposed the Ukrainian people to hatred or contempt on the basis of their race, national or ethnic origin.

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