Did you hear that the Maui fires were caused by a “weather weapon” being tested by the Pentagon? You may have if you follow the right social media accounts, as that was some false messaging being pushed by AI-powered Chinese social media bots. While the China effort was a little too outlandish to be believed by anyone other than the Jewish Space Laser crowd, the Russians used the Maui tragedy to spread “posts that emphasized how much money the United States was spending on the war in Ukraine and that suggested the cash would be better spent at home for disaster relief.” NYT (Gift Article): China Sows Disinformation About Hawaii Fires Using New Techniques.

+ This a reminder of how new technologies will make us more vulnerable to misinformation and foreign interference. But our adversaries are also still using their traditional methods to great effect, and they’re finding receptive audiences in some very powerful places. Anne Applebaum in The Atlantic (Gift Article): What Russia Got by Scaring Elon Musk. “This is a cautionary tale about the arrogance of a billionaire who has come to play a mercurial role in U.S. foreign policy. But it’s also a story about fear, seeded and promoted by the Russians, deliberately designed to shape broader Western perceptions of this war. Musk is not alone: Many people in Washington, and in Berlin, Brussels, and other European capitals, including people who support Ukrainian sovereignty and who want Ukraine to win the war, have also been cowed by conversations with Russian ambassadors, by threats issued by Russian leaders, and by the pictures of nuclear explosions shown on Russian state television. Long before he spoke with any real Russians, Musk likely encountered that same propaganda in the Russian-influenced far-right echo chambers that he frequents.”

+ The mission in ongoing: Putin praises Musk and defends Trump.