China uses AI to accuse US of starting Maui wildfires

Occurred: August 2023

Pro-China operatives reputedly spread disinformation about an experimental US military weapon that allegedly caused the August 2023 Maui wildfires.

Starting mid-August 2023, the campaign used apparently AI-generated photographs and text to allege the British intelligence service MI6 had revealed that the US military used a 'weather weapon' to start the wildfires. According to a report by NewsGuard, the conspiracy theory could be traced to a post on Chinese platform in early August.

Researchers said the campaign comprised 85 social media accounts and blogs originating from China, and targeted users in multiple countries and 16 languages on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and a dozen other platforms. Meta confirmed to Gizmodo the accounts were part of China's deepfake 'Spamouflage' disinformation operation.

The impact of the Chinese campaign proved difficult to measure, but it appears unlikely to have gained much traction given the highly implausible nature of the claim.

System 🤖

Operator: Government of China
Developer: Government of China 

Country: USA

Sector: Politics

Purpose: Scare/confuse/destabilise 

Technology: Deepfake - image, video, audio; Generative adversarial network (GAN); Neural network; Deep learning; Machine learning
Issue: Mis/disinformation

Transparency: Governance; Marketing

Fact check 🚩

Page info
Type: Incident
Published: September 2023
Last updated: December 2023