Today, ASD at GMF, the University of Amsterdam (UvA), and the Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD) released the Information Laundromat, an open-source tool to find content and metadata similarities between websites.

In a new report using the Information Laundromat, ASD at GMF, UvA, and ISD shed light on how Russian state media content bypasses restrictions by being posted on seemingly unrelated websites, such as “men’s interest” and spirituality pages, and faux local news sites. Read the full report here!

“This is really the tip of the Russian propaganda iceberg”, Senior Fellow Bret Schafer told the New York Times in their profile on the Information Laundromat. “If Russian propaganda is not showing up on Russian domains, it’s getting through … on sites that are less transparent than RT itself.” Read the full story here!

Our Takes

The People’s Republic of China (PRC), Iran, and other nation-state actors have ramped up efforts to interfere in US elections, but Russia remains the most formidable foe in this arena due to its more refined tactics, sharper capabilities, and more experience conducting influence operations, Co-Managing Director David Salvo said on C-SPAN Washington Journal.

Hamilton 2.0 Analysis

Russian diplomats and state media focused on two main narratives this week:

  • Ukrainian Prisoners of War: On Telegram posts that received roughly two million combined views, RT Editor-in-Chief Margarita Simonyan threatened and then eventually published a list of 500 Ukrainian prisoners of war whom she claimed Kyiv “refuses to take, considering only 38 of them valuable”. Simonyan concluded one post by stating that “it will be interesting for wives, mothers and Ukrainian citizens in general to get acquainted with [the list]”. Simonyan’s posts, which were amplified by the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), embassies, and other state media outlets, is the second prominent example in recent months of Simonyan publishing “leaked” information with the almost-certain cooperation of the Russian military, again showing the nonexistent lines between state media reporting and the Kremlin’s geopolitical agenda.
  • Trump’s Threat: More than a dozen Russian state media outlets and government officials commented last week on reports that former US President Donald Trump told supporters at a fundraising event that he would “bomb Moscow and Beijing” if they started conflicts in Ukraine or Taiwan under his watch. Uncharacteristically for Russian actors, Trump’s threats were largely brushed off, with multiple outlets chalking up the comments to “election rhetoric”. But other Russian state media commentators were less kind to the former president, with the Telegram channel for the RT show Going Underground claiming that the election left US voters with two choices: “genocide with Joe Biden, or genocide extreme with Donald Trump.” The latter comment was made in reference to Trump’s position on Palestine—not his bombing threat.

The People’s Republic of China’s (PRC) diplomats and state media focused on two main narratives this week:

  • Taiwan: Following Taiwanese President Lai Ting-te’s inauguration on May 20, PRC diplomats and state media re-asserted their country’s claims over the island throughout last week. T-House denounced “Lai’s Lies!”, Xinhua highlighted the “malicious intent” behind US congratulations to the new president, and the PRC MFA warned that “those supporting Taiwan secession will get their heads bashed bloody”. On Telegram, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and X, PRC messaging highlighted the military exercises that took place around the island following the inauguration, which many labeled a “punishment” for statements made by the Taiwanese leader and “external forces”.
  • Japan and South Korea: PRC diplomats and state media promoted the 9th China-Japan-South Korea trilateral summit that brought together the PRC premier, the South Korean president, and the Japanese prime minister in Seoul on May 26-27. On X, PRC diplomats in Denmark, India, the United Kingdom, and the United States hailed the summit as a great success. However, the Global Times deplored South Korea’s “diplomatic immaturity” for allegedly “rush[ing] to report” about the meeting’s outcomes to the United States.

News and Commentary

GOP senators divided on committing to accept 2024 election results: A number of Senate Republicans have pledged to accept the results of the 2024 presidential election to stave off potential false claims of fraud, while others have declined to make such commitments. Co-Managing Director Rachael Dean Wilson told the Dispatch, “Relentless false claims of a rigged system here in the United States undermine US democracy, divide our communities, and bolster US adversaries like Russia and the PRC. Hats off to those Republicans in the Senate standing up for the integrity of US elections despite the political pressure to fall in line—leadership and truth telling are essential in creating a safe and secure 2024.”

EU regulations fall short in addressing pro-Russian propaganda on Telegram: Telegram has become one of the largest vectors of pro-Russian propaganda in the EU as the bloc’s regulations have thus far fallen short in addressing the platform; the EU will examine whether Telegram should be subject to harsher regulations under the Digital Services Act. Senior Fellow Bret Schafer said, “Telegram has long been the platform of choice for Russian war bloggers, but it also hosts a sizable number of channels associated with state media and government officials. Although Telegram blocks RT and Sputnik in some regions, it is definitely a hospitable environment for malign Russian influence and the platform has shown little appetite for removing war propaganda.” 

TikTok to limit foreign state media influence in big election year: TikTok will introduce new measures to curb the circulation and reach of videos from Russian, PRC, and other state-affiliated media accounts during a major election year, including prohibiting such accounts from advertising outside their home country. Co-Managing Director David Salvo said, “The fallacy of this policy is that TikTok does not consistently label accounts that are affiliated with foreign state-sponsored media. ASD discovered several unlabeled accounts on TikTok that are likely controlled by foreign media, including RT channels in various languages and regions and RT edits and hosts. Will those accounts, which often have significant engagement on the platform, fall under TikTok’s policy? It’s unclear.”

In Case You Missed It

  • New Hampshire authorities have charged a political operative for his role in creating and disseminating a robocall generated by artificial intelligence (AI) that impersonated President Joe Biden before January’s Democratic primary in the state.
  • The US Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency released guidance for election workers and law enforcement to prevent and respond to swatting incidents.
  • Meta removed Facebook accounts linked to multiple influence campaigns originating in the PRC, Russia, Iran, Israel, and elsewhere, some of which likely used AI-generated disinformation and videos.
  • Belgian and French authorities raided European Parliament offices and the home of a parliamentary staffer over alleged involvement in a Russian influence operation.
  • OpenAI has signed additional partnerships with Vox Media and The Atlantic to use those media companies’ content to train AI models.

ASD in the News

Quote of the Week

“We have to also protect the people who protect democracy. And that’s a lot of what we’re working to do to prepare for this year.”


—Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, during a NBC Meet the Press segment on election threats on May 26.

The views expressed in GMF publications and commentary are the views of the author alone.