Politics may dominate discussions of Special Counsel John Durham’s recent report, but the real takeaway is that foreign interference in US democracy remains a serious threat, Managing Director Rachael Dean Wilson said on Fox.
The US government needs an adequate data privacy framework and more resources to grapple with the rise of artificial intelligence, Senior Fellow for Emerging Technologies Lindsay Gorman said on Bloomberg Technology.
Last weekend’s Turkish elections were mostly free and devoid of violence, but the Erdoğan regime’s autocratic interference in democratic processes rendered the polls anything but fair, Research Assistant Nathan Kohlenberg writes in a new piece.
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Hamilton 2.0 Analysis
Russian diplomats and state media focused on three main narratives this week:
- Turkish elections: Turkey was the fourth most mentioned country by Kremlin-linked Twitter accounts last week as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan advanced to a runoff election against opposition leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu. Russian state media took a pro-Erdoğan position, claiming that he was sure to win in the next round of voting and amplifying his appeals to voters and his attacks on Kılıçdaroğlu. Kremlin-affiliated accounts also pushed back on claims that Russia tried to interfere in the Turkish election.
- Ukraine: Russian propagandists cast doubt on the potential impact of a Ukrainian counteroffensive, with Sputnik asking if the military blitz was a myth or reality. Kremlin-backed accounts also dismissed Ukraine’s claims that it had intercepted a large number of Russian missiles and celebrated the Russian military’s alleged strike against a US-supplied Patriot air-defense missile system in Kyiv. Propagandists were largely silent about news that four Russian military aircrafts had been shot down.
- Durham report: Russian state media celebrated the release of special counsel John Durham’s report on the FBI’s 2016 probe into the Trump campaign’s Russia ties. Durham accused the FBI of having bias but didn’t advance many new facts or bring forth any successful criminal convictions. Despite that, Russian state media claimed Durham had exposed the “‘Russiagate’ lie” and “deep state corruption”, which would make it harder for the “US intel community to meddle” in the 2024 elections. Some Russia-linked accounts, though, criticized Durham for failing to prosecute anyone from the Clinton campaign.
Chinese diplomats and state media focused on three main topics this week:
- Japan and the G7: The G7’s approaching summit led to increased negative coverage of the group from Chinese messengers. Several diplomats and state media accounts amplified the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ (MFA) accusation that the grouping carries out “economic coercion”, while the head of China Daily in Europe called the G7 “a sheer US lackey”. Chinese messaging singled out Japan, the host of the summit, with the MFA accusing Tokyo of “stoking … bloc confrontation” and of “whitewash[ing] the history of aggression”.
- China-Central Asia Summit: “ChinaCentralAsiaSummit” was the most frequently used key phrase and hashtag in tweets from Chinese propagandists last week. State media accounts highlighted the arrivals of leaders from Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, and mocked supposed Western envy of China’s “influence in the region”. They also quoted the Kazakh president praising China’s economic growth and voicing support for China’s “unstoppable” reunification.
- Chinese vs. Western aid: One of the main narratives in Chinese messaging continues to be that China is helping a world destabilized by Western democracies. Assistant Foreign Minister Hua Chunying and CGTN presenter Li Jingjing generated high engagement by contrasting China’s investments to Western military interventions. A pro-China commentator that Twitter previously labeled as “state-affiliated media” also suggested “that China … does more wider good … for people around the world than the US and the collective West”. This came ahead of an AP investigation that alleged that Chinese loans had pushed many developing countries to “the brink of collapse”.
News and Commentary
Twitter censors content ahead of Turkish election: Twitter restricted access to four accounts and more than 400 tweets in Turkey days ahead of that country’s consequential presidential election after the Turkish government threatened to shut the site down as part of its ongoing social media crackdown. Research Assistant Nathan Kohlenberg said, “When tech companies comply with censorship requests from autocratic governments, they risk complicity in those regimes’ repression. In Turkey, traditional media is overwhelmingly controlled by the regime, either directly or indirectly, making online spaces a vital source of information. The fact that the list of blocked accounts appears to include at least one journalist is particularly concerning.”
Google to unveil new image search tools to fight misinformation: Google will launch new image search tools that will be able to identify an image’s date of publication and appearances elsewhere on the internet, as well as reveal whether it was generated by artificial intelligence, in an attempt to combat misinformation. Senior Fellow Bret Schafer told the Dispatch, “Any effort to provide additional context to users—especially about the provenance of images—is a welcome step in countering the misuse of manipulated media. But these tools are not silver bullets, and likely won’t be able to detect truly malicious use of AI by content creators whose intention is to mislead audiences.”
DOJ task force announces first charges against US technology theft: The Department of Justice’s recently established Disruptive Technology Strike Force announced five criminal cases taking aim at individuals seeking to help Russia, China, and Iran avoid US export laws and obtain sensitive technology, such as quantum cryptology. Senior Fellow for Emerging Technologies Lindsay Gorman said, “The autocratic assault on US high tech intellectual property and efforts to evade national security-related technology export controls is ongoing. So too must be our defenses. It’s not enough to put laws on the books—with determined adversaries we need aggressive enforcement. The Disruptive Technology Strike Force is coming out of the gate doing just that.”
In Case You Missed It
- A former ByteDance executive told a San Francisco court that the Chinese Communist Party maintains access to TikTok data, including data stored in the United States, and called the company a “useful propaganda tool” for China’s government.
- Ukrainian authorities detained the country’s Supreme Court chief justice for allegedly accepting bribes from an oligarch as a reward for ruling in favor of a financial group.
- China’s government asked that foreign embassies remove “politicized propaganda” displays from outside their offices, seemingly in response to various Western embassies displaying Ukrainian flags and pro-Ukraine messages on their buildings.
- A Russian court fined Google for refusing to remove content that the Russian government said promotes same-sex relationships and criticizes Russian armed forces.
- A cyberattack disrupted the operations of the Philadelphia Inquirer, Pennsylvania’s largest news organization, and prevented the publication of the paper’s Sunday edition, two days ahead of the city’s mayoral primary elections.
- Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin will lead a delegation of Russian businesspeople, most of whom face Western sanctions, to next week’s Russia-China business forum in Shanghai.
ASD in the News
Greek Elections: Three Fundamental Contradictions in the Country’s Path Towards Political “Normalcy”. Head of European Operations Vassilis Ntousas and Ronald Meinardus write for the Alliance for Securing Democracy at GMF
China wants to broker a Ukraine peace deal that doesn’t hurt Russia. Research Analyst Etienne Soula quoted in CNBC
Twitter under fire for restricting content before Turkish presidential election. Senior Fellow for Malign Finance Josh Rudolph quoted in CBS News
Temu accused of data risks amid TikTok, Pinduoduo fears. Senior Fellow for Emerging Technologies Lindsay Gorman quoted in CNBC
In Senate testimony, OpenAI CEO Sam Altman agrees with calls for an AI regulatory agency. Senior Fellow for Emerging Technologies Lindsay Gorman quoted in VentureBeat
Quote of the Week
“Justice is needed not only for Ukraine, but also for all countries that want to live in peace.”
- Ukrainian First Lady Olena Zelenska said, advocating for a special tribunal for Russian war crimes, in a meeting with South Korean Minister of Foreign Affairs Park Jin in Seoul on May 16.
The views expressed in GMF publications and commentary are the views of the author alone.