Russian Disinformation Campaign Targets Americans Traveling to Olympic Games

( – Russian operatives are promoting a misleading “warning” video to dissuade Americans from visiting Paris during the 2024 Olympic Summer Games.

The video features the CIA logo and includes a caption claiming that the terrorist threat level in the metropolitan area of Paris has “reached its peak.” It shows stock footage of a subway system before showing text that claims the CIA and US embassy are encouraging citizens to avoid the area during the games.

It also encourages Americans who ignore the “warning” to avoid rail systems and instead rely on rental vehicles and rideshare services. It then warns them to avoid transportation ports with large crowds. The video has nearly 20,000 views at the time of this writing.

A CIA spokesperson confirmed that the video was fake while verifying that it doesn’t “represent (the) CIA’s view.” The US government has not issued any travel warnings about the metro Paris area or attending the games as they kick off on July 26th. Officials also said that security is their top priority as the games get underway.

The account publishes dozens of pictures and videos each day. Most feature photos of prominent politicians and events, typically with a misleading caption. It also occasionally posts memes. A few of its “new” posts have even featured stock photography with the watermarks clearly visible. However, the account has managed to earn over 124,000 followers.

Microsoft previously confirmed the account’s ties to a network of Russian disinformation social engineers earlier in June. It also used advanced generative AI to develop a fake Tom Cruise film that was supposedly set to stream on Netflix. Clint Walts, who works as the Microsoft Threat Analysis Center’s general manager, said the Russian affiliates hope their disinformation campaign will disrupt the games.

The video was also found on Telegram from an account with 200,000 followers. That account often reposts content published by the Russian government. The video later appeared on fake news websites owned by Russians, one in English and the other in French, alongside articles that attempted to give the video credibility.

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