Updated May 31st, 2024 at 21:51 IST

Israeli Firm Tried to Influence Lok Sabha Elections 2024, Open AI Makes Big Claim

OpenAI has made a big claim, stating that they have disrupted efforts by an Israeli commercial company attempting to influence Indian elections.

Reported by: Surabhi Shaurya
Israeli Firm Tried to Influence Lok Sabha Elections 2024, Open AI Makes Big Claim | Image:Republic Digital
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New Delhi: Ahead of the Lok Sabha Election Results 2024 on June 4, US-based AI firm OpenAI, the creator of ChatGPT, has made an explosive claim, stating that they have disrupted efforts by an Israeli commercial company STOIC attempting to influence Indian elections by ‘peddling an anti-BJP agenda’. "We banned a cluster of accounts operated from Israel that were being used to generate and edit content for an influence operation that spanned X, Facebook, Instagram, websites, and YouTube," OpenAI said in its report titled 'AI and Covert Influence Operations: Latest Trends'.    

"The network was operated by STOIC, a political campaign management firm in Israel. In early May, it (the influence operation by the Israeli firm) began targeting audiences in India with English-language content," it said. The operation OpenAI's models to "generate web articles and social media comments that were then posted across multiple platforms, notably Instagram, Facebook, and X", according to the company.

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Screengrab of OpenAI report that claimed 'Operation Zero Zeno' influenced Indian Elections

 

"In May, we disrupted some activity focused on the Indian elections less than 24 hours after it began," the company stated further. Moreover, the OpenAI claimed that in May, the network "began generating comments that focused on India, criticized the ruling BJP party and praised the opposition Congress party".

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Israeli Firm Influencing Indian Elections: What Open AI Report Claims  

The OpenAI report highlighted a campaign that employed AI for covert operations aimed at manipulating public opinion and influencing political outcomes. “While we observed these threat actors using our models for a range of IO, they all attempted to deceive people about who they were or what they were trying to achieve,” the report underlined.

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In May, the network began generating comments that focused on India, criticized the ruling BJP party and praised the opposition Congress party. Sometimes, the network appears to have flipped its accounts from one topic to another - for example, accounts which had earlier posted about Canada switching focus to the USA, India or the Histadrut (or more than one of these).  

What is Operation Zero Zeno? 

The covert influence operation, called "Zero Zeno," was part of a wider effort by the firm to sway public opinion in various regions, including Canada, the United States, Israel, and Ghana.  The campaign focused on Indian audiences, aiming to criticize the ruling BJP party and praise the opposition Congress party. It was detected and stopped within 24 hours of its initiation. 

 

‘Dangerous threat to the country’, says BJP

Reacting strongly to the report, Union Minister of Electronics and Technology Rajeev Chandrasekhar said, "It is absolutely clear and obvious that BJP was and is the target of influence operations, misinformation and foreign interference, being done by and/or on behalf of some Indian political parties."

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Calling it a "dangerous threat" to the country's democracy, Chandrasekhar stated, "It is clear: vested interests in India and outside are clearly driving this and needs to be deeply scrutinised/investigated and exposed."

"My view at this point is that these platforms could have released this much earlier, and not so late when elections are ending," he added further.

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Published May 31st, 2024 at 19:42 IST