Russian-linked cybercampaigns put a bull’s-eye on France. Their focus? The Olympics and elections

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PARIS (AP) — Photos of blood-red hands on a Holocaust memorial. Caskets at the Eiffel Tower. A fake French military recruitment drive calling for soldiers in Ukraine, and major French news sites improbably registered in an obscure Pacific territory, population 15,000.

All are part of disinformation campaigns orchestrated out of Russia and targeting France, according to French officials and cybersecurity experts in Europe and the United States. France’s legislative elections and the Paris Olympics sent them into overdrive.

More than a dozen reports issued in the past year point to an intensifying effort from Russia to undermine France, particularly the upcoming Games, and President Emmanuel Macron, who is one of Ukraine’s most vocal supporters in Europe.

This story, supported by the Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting, is part of an Associated Press series covering threats to democracy in Europe.

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6 Comments

ShittyBeatlesFCPres

Well, it didn’t seem to work for the election.

2484345508

It’s probably gonna work in the US.

ShittyBeatlesFCPres

We don’t host the Olympics in an election year until 2028. We have plenty of time to prepare. Plus, fascists famously suck at using the Olympics for propaganda. Hitler’s 1936 Berlin games was supposed to be a showcase of German superiority and then Jesse Owens dominated the marquee event.

BONUS FUN FACT: Until the 1936 Olympics, somehow no one had realized that Haiti and Liechtenstein had the same flag. So, Liechtenstein added a crown to theirs and then made that their new national flag.

2484345508

I would think someone would have been super into flags by then and would have pointed that out. That is a fun fact.

catloaf

Nobody on the Olympic committee was that into flags, at least.

2484345508

I guess they all look the same after a while.

Here is the original flag. I can see how it happened.

https://factrepublic.com/facts/22751/

AutoTL;DR

This is the best summary I could come up with:


More than a dozen reports issued in the past year point to an intensifying effort from Russia to undermine France, particularly the upcoming Games, and President Emmanuel Macron, who is one of Ukraine’s most vocal supporters in Europe.

The Russian campaigns sowing anti-French disinformation began online in early summer 2023, but first became tangible in October, when more than 1,000 bots linked to Russia relayed photos of graffitied Stars of David in Paris and its suburbs.

Among the broader goals, the French military official said, was a long-term and steady effort to sow social discord, erode faith in the media and democratic governments, undermine NATO, and sap Western support for Ukraine.

Three-quarters of posts from the week ahead of the June 30 first-round legislative vote that were directed toward a French audience focused on either criticizing Macron or boosting the National Rally, antibot4navalny found in data shared with The Associated Press.

And still another inadvertently left a generative artificial intelligence prompt calling for the re-write of an article “taking a conservative stance against the liberal policies of the Macron administration,” according to findings last week from Insikt Group, the threat research division of the cybersecurity consultancy Recorded Future.

Microsoft said this campaign, which it dubbed Storm-1679, is fanning fears of violence at the Games and last fall disseminated digitally generated photos referring, among other things, to the attacks on Israeli athletes at the 1972 Olympics.


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