China uses AI to accuse US of starting Maui wildfires
Occurred: August 2023
Pro-China operatives have been spreading disinformation about an experimental US military weapon that reputedly caused the August 2023 Maui wildfires, according to a report by NewsGuard.
Starting mid-August 2023, the campaign uses 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. NewsGuard said it traced the conspiracy theory to a post on Chinese platform 163.com 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.
Fact check 🚩
Radio Free Asia (2023). Were Maui wildfires caused by a US weapons test?
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Published: September 2023