June 13, 2024

A propaganda network linked to Russia has sparked alarm about a new weapon of information warfare: large language models (LLMs).

The operation was unearthed by Recorded Future, a threat intelligence firm founded by two Swedish computer scientists. In early March, the company spotted a network known as CopyCopy using LLMs to manipulate news from mainstream media outlets.

Using prompt engineering, CopyCop tailored the content to specific audiences and political biases. Delivered via inauthentic US, UK, and French news sites, the articles covered divisive domestic and international issues.

Topics ranged from tensions among British Muslims to Russia’s war against Ukraine. The articles were then disseminated “on a massive scale,” Recorded Futures said.

Figure 11: CopyCop website imitating the BBC (Source: Wayback Machine)