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US Officials take down Russian Bot Farm Powered by AI

Federal prosecutors dismantled a Russian disinformation bot farm designed to spread AI-generated propaganda in favor of Vladimir Putin. The operation was by Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) which used nearly 1,000 fake social media accounts and two websites to influence public opinion in the United States and abroad.

US Officials take down Russian Bot Farm Powered by AI

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The bot farm was developed and operated by Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) and the state-run RT news network employed AI to create social media profiles.

These profiles purported to belong to US citizens and were used to disseminate propaganda supporting Russian government objectives.

The operation included the creation of false personas and the production of content to influence public opinion.

The project was initiated by an individual identified as “Individual A” who was the deputy editor-in-chief at RT.

RT leadership sought to distribute information through alternative means beyond traditional broadcasts leading to the development of the bot farm.

Individual A along with Individual B and others began purchasing the necessary infrastructure for the bot farm in April 2022.

In early 2023 with Kremlin approval and financial support, an FSB officer established a private intelligence organization (PIO).

The PIO included members from RT with its main mission being to advance FSB and Russian government objectives by spreading disinformation via the bot farm.

The Justice Department seized two domain names and searched 968 social media accounts linked to the bot farm.

The domains “” and “” were used to create email servers necessary for registering fictitious social media accounts.

The disruption involved collaboration with the FBI, the Cyber National Mission Force (CNMF), the Canadian Centre for Cyber Security (CCCS) and various Dutch intelligence and security services.

These entities jointly released a cybersecurity advisory detailing the bot farm’s technology to help social media platforms and researchers identify and prevent future operations.

X Corp. played a huge role by voluntarily suspending the identified bot accounts for violating their terms of service.

The Justice Department praised X Corp.’s measures in suspending numerous bot accounts before the government intervention.

The bot farm utilized AI to generate and operate fake social media accounts that posted misleading and false information.

The accounts were with names like Sue Williamson and Ricardo Abbott purported to be American citizens praising Putin and spreading pro-Russian narratives. The operation ran from 2022 through 2024 targeting platforms like X.

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AI software was used to create realistic personas complete with profile pictures and personal details. The software generated content that aligned with pro-Russian preferences and narratives.

Accounts were registered using email domains paid for with Bitcoin.

The FBI and its partners seized 968 accounts and two websites involved in the operation. The bot farm’s posts included propaganda videos undermining Ukraine’s military and justifying Russia’s invasion.

These AI-generated accounts reached audiences not typically exposed to mainstream fact-checking.

The FBI, U.S. Cyber Command and partners from the Netherlands and Canada collaborated in the takedown.

Warrants issued by a federal judge in Arizona facilitated the seizure of accounts and websites. X suspended the accounts for violating terms of service.

The scheme was conceived by a deputy editor at RT, a Kremlin-owned media outlet. RT is known for its pro-Russian content expanded its reach through social media after being dropped by major US cable providers. A Russian intelligence officer later joined the effort.

Disinformation experts and officials hailed the crackdown as a first step in combating state-sponsored AI-powered propaganda.

The relatively low number of bots taken down suggests that many more fake accounts continue to operate.

The affordability and ease of creating AI bot schemes mean such operations will likely persist. Experts anticipate that state-sponsored AI-generated misinformation will remain a major challenge in the context of geopolitical conflicts.

The FBI’s investigation may lead to disruptions of similar operations. The use of Bitcoin for domain registration shows the methods employed to obscure the operation’s origins.

US constituent replying to a federal candidate with a video of President Putin justifying Russia’s actions in Ukraine.

A supposed Minneapolis resident posting a video of Putin discussing territorial claims. Another fictitious resident posting videos downplaying the number of foreign fighters in Ukraine and framing the conflict as a foundational struggle for a new world order.

The use of U.S.-based domain names by the bot farm violated the International Emergency Economic Powers Act. Payments for the bot farm’s infrastructure constituted federal money laundering violations.

The Justice Department’s investigation into the bot farm and its operators is ongoing. Prosecutors from various divisions including the National Security Division’s National Security Cyber Section and the US Attorney’s Offices for the District of Arizona and the Northern District of Illinois are involved in the case.

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