‘Zero Zeno’: Israeli firm tried to disrupt LS polls, peddled anti-BJP agenda, OpenAI report says – The Times of India

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NEW DELHI: An OpenAI investigation has revealed that an Israeli company, STOIC, attempted to interfere in the recent Lok Sabha elections in India by peddling an anti-BJP agenda. This covert influence operation, dubbed “Zero Zeno,” was part of a larger effort by the firm to manipulate public opinion across various regions, including Canada, the United States, Israel, and Ghana.
Operation Overview
The operation used artificial intelligence (AI) to generate web articles and social media comments, which were then disseminated across multiple platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, and X.The content targeted audiences in India, focusing on criticizing the ruling BJP party and praising the opposition Congress party. This campaign was detected and disrupted less than 24 hours after it began.
Tactics and Content
The Zero Zeno campaign employed a range of tactics to create the illusion of engagement and authenticity. The operation used AI to create fictional personas and social media bios, tailored to specific variables like age, gender, and location. Additionally, fake accounts were set up to comment on and engage with posts made by the operation itself, attempting to fabricate the impression of genuine audience interaction.
The campaign’s content was divided into several topical clusters. While some focused on local issues such as the Gaza conflict and Jewish-Muslim relations, others specifically targeted political scenarios in different regions. For India, the comments were critical of the BJP and supportive of the Congress party. Other clusters included anti-Hamas, anti-Qatar, pro-Israel, and pro-Histadrut (an Israeli trade union) content.
Impact Assessment
Despite the concerted efforts of the Zero Zeno campaign, the operation failed to attract significant engagement from real audiences. The majority of the interaction was limited to the operation’s own inauthentic accounts. Various social media platforms, including Meta and X, have already disabled many of these accounts, limiting the potential reach and impact of the campaign.
Using the Breakout Scale, which measures the impact of influence operations, Zero Zeno’s activities were assessed at Category 2. This indicates activity across multiple platforms and websites but with no substantial amplification by real users.
Reacting strongly to the report IT and electronics minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar said, “It is absolutely clear and obvious that @BJP4India was and is the target of influence operations, misinformation and foreign interference, being done by and/or on behalf of some Indian political parties.”
“This is very dangerous threat to our democracy. It is clear vested interests in India and outside are clearly driving this and needs to be deeply scrutinized/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.

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