Microsoft chief says Russia spreading Middle East disinformation

Microsoft president Brad Smith says Microsoft and its competitors were fighting against disinformation, in particular by using Artificial Intelligence. – EPA pic, November 11, 2023.

RUSSIA has been spreading “disinformation” about the situation in the Middle East, the president of Microsoft said today, as tensions soar in the region due to the Israel-Hamas war.

Brad Smith, Microsoft vice chair and president, was asked about the role of the US tech giant in promoting peace at an international peace forum in Paris. 

He said that Microsoft and its competitors were fighting against disinformation, in particular by using Artificial Intelligence (AI).

Smith said that Microsoft and other companies are doing this “by creating technological tools that facilitate the detection of manipulated, modified, altered content,” according to remarks translated in French by radio France Inter. 

“We are getting very good at identifying a Russian campaign, like when they tried to tell people not to get the Covid vaccine,” he said.

“Or today, when we see Russian disinformation in the Middle East,” he added.

He said the three options facing technology platforms that identify this kind of disinformation are to do nothing, delete it, or re-label it and flag the content as having been modified.

“There is no societal consensus about what companies should do,” Smith added.

Th Paris Peace Forum opened against a backdrop of proliferating conflict around the world, and more than a month into the war between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

Since Hamas attacks in southern Israel on October 7 – in which Israel says 1,200 people were killed and 239 taken hostage – Israel has bombarded Gaza relentlessly and sent in ground troops.

The Palestinian territory’s Hamas-run health ministry says more than 11,000 people have been killed in Gaza, many of them children.

In an interview with the BBC on the fringes of the peace forum yesterday, French President Emmanuel Macron condemned the Hamas attacks but called on Israel to stop bombing civilians in Gaza, saying there was “no justification” and the deaths were causing “resentment”. – AFP, November 11, 2023.

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