Russian Disinformation Surge: AI-Generated Tom Cruise Impersonations Target Paris 2024 Olympics —What Did Microsoft Say

June 4, 2024
2 mins read
Russian Disinformation Surge: AI-Generated Tom Cruise Impersonations Target Paris 2024 Olympics —What Did Microsoft Say Photo Credits: Microsoft
Russian Disinformation Surge: AI-Generated Tom Cruise Impersonations Target Paris 2024 Olympics —What Did Microsoft Say Photo Credits: Microsoft

Russia has escalated its disinformation campaign against the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, attempting to stoke fears of violent acts during the event, according to a new report from Microsoft’s Threat Analysis Center. These maneuvers employ a potent mix of fake videos, fictional news, and AI-generated imitations, including the falsified voice of Hollywood star Tom Cruise, according to the tech giant’s observatory.

A selection of Storm-1099’s anti-Olympics messaging, including from its core disinformation outlet Reliable Recent News (RRN). Photo Source: Microsoft.

Russia is ramping up malign disinformation campaigns against France, French President Emmanuel Macron, the International Olympic Committee (IOC), and this summer’s Olympic Games in Paris,” said Clint Watts, general manager of the Center, in a message posted on Sunday. The report reveals that two Russian groups, Storm-1679 and Doppelganger, have redirected their operations over the past year to directly target the Games, which will take place between July 26 and August 11. “While Russia has a decades-long history of targeting the Olympic Games, the Microsoft Threat Analysis Center (MTAC) has observed old tactics blending with artificial intelligence (AI) in malign activity that may intensify as the 2024 Paris Opening Ceremony approaches. These operations have two principal aims,” he added.

These activities escalated in June 2023 with the release on Telegram of a feature-length documentary titled “Olympics Has Fallen.” Using AI-generated audio impersonating actor Tom Cruise (‘Top Gun’), computer graphics, and a sophisticated marketing campaign, the film seeks to discredit the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in an apparent attempt to erode global public support for the Game

An image of graffiti, reportedly left in Paris, threatening a repeat of the 1972 Munich terror attacks at the upcoming Olympic Games in Paris (left). A still image from the false-flag terror threat, purportedly from Turkish ultranationalist group the Grey Wolves, whose symbol is visible in the top-right corner of the screen. The video was widely publicized by pro-Russian bot accounts and prompted a response from the Israeli Olympic Committee (right). Photo Source: Microsoft

Storm-1679 also repeatedly created and amplified fake videos, news clips, and press releases falsely claiming that terrorism fears had triggered a wave of ticket cancellations and home insurance purchases among Parisians. Additionally, the threat group Doppelganger intensified anti-Olympic messages through its network of 15 disinformation websites and falsified content from French media to defame Macron. Microsoft also expressed suspicions that Russian groups were behind the fake circulation of graffiti threatening a repeat of the Munich 1972 massacre against Israeli athletes.

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A visual from the fake documentary “Olympics Has Fallen”, produced by Russia-affiliated influence actor Storm-1679, which targets the International Olympic Committee and advances pro-Kremlin disinformation. The documentary uses the image and likeness of American actor Tom Cruise, who did not participate in any such documentary. Photo Source: Microsoft

Watts warned that the campaigns could seek to provoke real-world incidents near Olympic venues to sow chaos. “Predominantly French-language activities will likely expand to English, German, and other languages to maximize visibility and traction online and the use of generative AI will also likely increase,” Microsoft estimates

Rahul Somvanshi

Rahul, possessing a profound background in the creative industry, illuminates the unspoken, often confronting revelations and unpleasant subjects, navigating their complexities with a discerning eye. He perpetually questions, explores, and unveils the multifaceted impacts of change and transformation in our global landscape. As an experienced filmmaker and writer, he intricately delves into the realms of sustainability, design, flora and fauna, health, science and technology, mobility, and space, ceaselessly investigating the practical applications and transformative potentials of burgeoning developments.

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