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Russia targets Paris Olympics with fake Tom Cruise video

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Russia targets Paris Olympics with fake Tom Cruise video

Russia is targeting the Paris Olympics with a disinformation campaign that includes using a fake Tom Cruise to narrate a documentary criticizing the organization behind the games, according to a new report. report from Microsoft.

Microsoft said a network of Russian-affiliated groups is carrying out “evil influence campaigns” against France, Emmanuel Macron, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the Paris Games with less than 80 days until the event. Russia has been excluded from the 2024 Olympics, although a small number of Russian athletes are allowed to compete as neutrals.

The fake Cruise video, which appeared on the messaging platform Telegram last year, is called Olympics Has Fallen and uses artificial intelligence-generated audio of the movie star’s voice to present a “bizarre, meandering script” that disparages the IOC. The documentary, whose title is inspired by the Gerard Butler action film Olympus Has Fallen, also falsely claims to have been produced by Netflix and is promoted with fake five-star reviews from the New York Times and the BBC.

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“The video… clearly indicated that the content creators spent considerable time on the project and demonstrated more skill than most influence campaigns we observed,” Microsoft’s threat analysis center said in a statement. a report released Monday.

The video was made by a Kremlin-linked group called Storm-1679, which has deceived American actors in the past. including Elijah Wood to record messages on Cameo, a website where people can pay celebrities for personalized video messages, which later became anti-Ukrainian propaganda.

Storm-1679’s Olympic campaign over the past year includes a collection of videos spreading fears of violence during the games, which run from July 26 to August 11. The group has published fake news stories claiming that Parisians are purchasing property insurance in anticipation of terrorist attacks and that a quarter of the tickets have been returned due to terrorist fears. Both clips were impersonated by the well-known radio stations Euro News and France24.

Social media accounts linked to Storm-1679 have shown images claiming to depict graffiti in Paris threatening violence to Israelis attending the games. Several of the images also referenced the attacks carried out by Palestinian terrorists at the 1972 Munich Olympics, in which 11 members of the Israeli Olympic team were killed.

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“Microsoft did not observe any independent confirmation that the graffiti physically exists, suggesting that the images were likely generated digitally,” the report says.

Russia has a long tradition of trying to undermine the games, the technology company said, including when the Soviet Union boycotted the 1984 event in Los Angeles and distributed divisive leaflets to Olympic committees in countries such as Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka and South Korea.

Another Russian group, known as Storm-1099 or “Doppelganger,” has created French-language fake news sites claiming corruption in the IOC and possible violence in Paris. The mock versions of the media Le Parisien and Le Point also present Macron as a political figure indifferent to the difficulties faced by French citizens.

Microsoft said it expected Russian efforts to expand to other languages ​​and attempt to flood social media through automated accounts, while the use of generative AI (systems that produce highly convincing text, video, images and audio) is also likely to increase. ).

Last month, Microsoft published a report documenting similar Chinese attempts to interfere in elections in South Korea, India and the United States by using AI-generated material to deliver false information. The country’s propaganda apparatus often uses fake news anchors to spread disinformation.

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