Deepfake Election Interference in Slovakia

Well designed and well timed deepfake or two Slovakian politicians discussing how to rig the election:

Šimečka and Denník N immediately denounced the audio as fake. The fact-checking department of news agency AFP said the audio showed signs of being manipulated using AI. But the recording was posted during a 48-hour moratorium ahead of the polls opening, during which media outlets and politicians are supposed to stay silent. That meant, under Slovakia’s election rules, the post was difficult to widely debunk. And, because the post was audio, it exploited a loophole in Meta’s manipulated-media policy, which dictates only faked videos—­where a person has been edited to say words they never said­—go against its rules.

I just wrote about this. Countries like Russia and China tend to test their attacks out on smaller countries before unleashing them on larger ones. Consider this a preview to their actions in the US next year.

Posted on October 6, 2023 at 3:04 AM21 Comments


Petr Diviš October 6, 2023 3:23 AM

Hi Mr. Schneider, you have a typo in the name of our neighboring country, it is Slovakia 😉

Bruce Schneier October 6, 2023 4:49 AM


Fixed; thank you. (And I note, with amusement, that you had a typo in my name.)

ResearcherZero October 6, 2023 5:37 AM

There was at least someone interfering to suppress investigations into Russian influence, stretching back for a very long time. Likely someone in the FBI.


“I simply couldn’t be part of it. So I resigned.”


Divide and rule: ten lessons about Russian political influence activities in Europe


Any sign of weakening resolve for arming Ukraine among Western leaders and legislatures is an added incentive for Putin

Winter October 6, 2023 6:24 AM

@ ResearcherZero

There was at least someone interfering to suppress investigations into Russian influence, stretching back for a very long time.

What a surprise!



anon October 6, 2023 1:31 PM

Given that it was politicians, I would wager that the only thing fake about that audio is the implication that it was only two of them having that discussion.

Isaac October 6, 2023 9:52 PM

Disinformation and Propaganda have always been the bedrock of professional politics worldwide.
Its foreign or domestic source is irrelevant; root problem is that voters always lack suffient factual information to vote rationally.

Clever humans have routinely been successful in deceiving voters, using traditional composition methods for wods an images.
AI merely brings a bit more efficiency to this political game.

Elections have huge problems in theory and practice — AI is not one of them.

JPA October 6, 2023 10:26 PM

This is off topic but since the usual Friday squid post is not available to introduce topics I’ll put this here.

Article from Der Spiegel International edition on how European countries and wealthy business associates are aiding spyware companies in invasions of privacy in violation of law.
European Spyware Consortium Supplied Despots and Dictators

Winter October 7, 2023 3:19 AM


Given that it was politicians,

That is not just an overgeneralization of a profession, but an attack on democracy itself. Even showing the devious nature of the deep fake is used as a new attack on the victims.

The very comment is a clear demonstration of the current subject of disinformation campaigns.

Winter October 7, 2023 3:44 AM


Elections have huge problems in theory and practice — AI is not one of them.

It has been said that “Democ­ra­cy is the worst form of gov­ern­ment, except for all the oth­ers.”

If we compare the problems of democratic countries with those of their undemocratic counterparts, eg, Russia, China, North Korea, or Belarus, then the problems of elections become mere first world problems.

But what are the “problems” of elections?

What happens in, eg, the USA, Slovakia, Poland, and Hungary, are attempts to overthrow democracy and establish a dictatorship. All these countries have large populations of “nativists” that identify by race and religion and want to “clean” the country of impurities.

The problem really is not in the elections.

Clive Robinson October 7, 2023 3:51 AM

@ Bruce,

From the wired article,

“… is also worried by the trend in Slovakia for disinformation to be packaged into audio recordings, as opposed to video or images, because voice cloning is so difficult to identify”

But voices cloned or copied are not the only “Digitized signals” in audio recordings.

If you remember back a few years ago, the UK’s Police forensics Establishment –as was– demonstrated that “mains hum” provided an accurate and difficult signal to fake.

Since then other signals have been discovered, the absence of which would be sufficiently suspicious to warrant extra checking.

Beware though that the recording came from an anonymous account… Which should have been a big red flag.

I’m fairly sure that certain people will leap on this as an excuse to ban anonymous use of electronic communications.

ResearcherZero October 7, 2023 4:31 AM

AI can clearly be a problem for elections. AI can be used to direct a large number of accounts to target an individual and single them out for attack.

  • The Frontline States: Conversations and Observations About Russia’s Other War In Europe

“Courage is not when you stand up to your enemies; it is when you stand up to your friends.”


“Under certain conditions, people can be manipulated into thinking and behaving in ways that override their critical faculties and personal choice—the mind can be ‘hacked’.”


“Russian state and proxy actors who all serve the Kremlin’s interests worked to affect U.S. public perceptions.”


“Today we are living in a new era of propaganda and psychological coercion emerging from the intersection of behavioral science, neuroscience, data science, and artificial intelligence. The next critical step involves an increase in public oversight and awareness of the methods, risks, and impacts of attention capture business models.”

REPORT on foreign interference in all democratic processes in the European Union, including disinformation


ResearcherZero October 7, 2023 5:00 AM

Always looking for volunteers who don’t mind being shot or beaten to a pulp in order to disrupt foreign operations. Generally career bureaucrats don’t want to do the job. It pays well if you are interested, and the emergency first aid is top notch. Safety is not guaranteed for anyone.

Of course the gig does not come with any kind of after-care or psychological support. Can’t have anyone talking about what they might have (or have not) done. Strictly a plausible deniability situation, all injuries are self inflicted or accidental. No honorable mentions, no medals.

ResearcherZero October 7, 2023 5:53 AM


The general idea of disinformation is that important parts of the context are removed, to shape and manipulate opinion. To discredit, in order to create distrust or confusion.

Politically Exposed Persons are sometimes primed in preparation to distrust certain subjects, so that they will have a tendency to ignore warnings that they are being targeted with specific disinformation. Over time this makes it more difficult for the target to shift their position, and more likely to view the warnings themselves as the threat, painting themselves into a corner.

Russian agents prefer to nudge a useful target into doing the damage themselves, blackmail is often not the first choice for PEPs. However, any means is applicable for more isolated, average citizens, as long as it is out of public view. In those situations, violence and intimidation are regularly employed, along with financial inducement.

K19 October 7, 2023 9:43 AM

Thanks, researcherZero. Do you know who studies the landscape of coercion and crime? I see things but I don’t know who to tell them to.

ResearcherZero October 14, 2023 10:56 PM


The Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project

Serious Fraud Office, or something similar to report a crime. Sometimes media organisations will investigate if it is more localised corruption.


Bribery and corruption related complaints increase ‘Down Under’



Orderers of Disinformation

“strategic competitors and adversaries, who want to generate and spread a false narrative to distort facts pertaining to past and future events.”



If the point of Stage 2 is to lay a trap around the internet to get that attention, Stage 3 is where the campaign snares it.

look for any one of these points of action and then trace the campaign backward and forward through the life cycle


Important “that all parties consider the implications for social cohesion when making public statements”.

ResearcherZero October 20, 2023 12:52 AM

“what is required for learning, is the metalogical realization that one’s own goals, beliefs and assumptions are fallible”


Social reality is meaning that is accepted by a group at a point in time. Much of what is going on never reaches us or only partially reaches us, in distorted and incomplete ways. But is it real? More importantly, is it healthy? Social media can ultimately create a false sense of reality.

“…we imagine how we look to others, draw conclusions based upon their reactions to us, and then we develop our personal sense of self. In other words, people’s reactions to us are like a mirror in which we are reflected.”



Psychologists use the unnerving term “self-infiltration” to describe the situation in which we believe we are doing something we want to do but have unconsciously chosen to do something at others’ bidding. When we are out of touch with ourselves, we risk self-betrayal, allowing ourselves to be brain jacked by others.


Stuart Levy October 21, 2023 9:42 AM

One thing in this discussion puzzles me. Why the focus on election deepfakes as used by foreign powers? Actors in the US are perfectly capable of interfering in our own elections, and the stakes (your party gets to win an election and control public policy) are much more immediate. Campaigning, including through spreading disinformation, is already a multibillion dollar domestic industry in the US. How can deepfakes not become another especially effective domestic campaign tool?

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