Last month, as fierce winds fanned wildfires in Hawaii that destroyed whole neighbourhoods and killed 115 people, Chinese social media users read startling reports that MI6 had revealed “the amazing truth” behind the fires – namely that the US had been experimenting with a secret “weather weapon” which had got out of control. It was entirely untrue, but a sign of things to come, the NYT reports, as Chinese disinformation engines learn from Russian ones and gear up, potentially, to disrupt next year’s US election. The Chinese “reports” were also notable for their use of AI-generated images to enhance their appearance of authenticity for credulous audiences. When Joe Biden met Xi Jinping in Bali last year he complained about Chinese misinformation but Xi has shown little inclination to accede to US pleas for a more transparent relationship since then. He, like Putin, would prefer a Trump revival next year to four more years of the incumbent.
Photograph Getty Images