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Nonprofit group plans ad campaign using AI misinfo to fight AI misinfo

Madison Fernandez


Oct 3, 2023

A new initiative is planning to use AI-generated misinformation to try to prepare voters against a possible wave of similar content.

AIandYou, a nonprofit founded in 2019 to help underrepresented racial and ethnic groups understand AI, is launching the public awareness campaign to educate voters on how AI could affect next year’s election, according to details first shared with POLITICO.

The campaign is still in its early stages, and it launched Tuesday morning with more traditional kinds of outreach in an attempt to drive awareness and understanding of AI-created content. That includes a video that outlines the uses and risks of AI and an online database of election-related AI news and voter resources. Susan Gonzales, founder and CEO of the nonprofit, said it is also looking to host a town hall on AI and the election next month.

The deepfakes are planned for early next year. The campaign is planning to start running its own AI-generated ads — to make voters familiar with that type of content — as the primary elections start to ramp up, said José Villa, president of Sensis, an ad agency working with the campaign. The ads are still being developed, but one example could be an AI-generated video of President Joe Biden saying something he didn’t say, with a message at the end saying that the content was not real and directing viewers toward the nonprofit, Villa explained.

The campaign is the first of its kind ahead of the 2024 presidential election, Gonzales said.

“Our democracy is at risk if people do not understand the AI basics and how it is being used in this campaign,” Gonzales said. “People talk about digital literacy … but nobody is embracing the idea of AI literacy.”

Strategists and politicians on both sides of the aisle have expressed concerns that recent advances in AI can lead to an influx of fake content hitting voters. Some campaigns have used AI in videos and images, but widespread usage has yet to be seen. Even so, there is little regulation of how AI is used in political advertising, and some campaign operatives and technologists fear it is only a matter of time before it becomes more prominent.

Much of the conversation about AI has been focused on policy, said Gonzales, a former Facebook executive who currently serves on the National AI Advisory Committee. She said not enough attention has been given to preparing voters to come across an AI-generated video while scrolling on social media or see a fake image on a flier in their mailbox.

The campaign will target young people of color and women — demographics that are expected to play an outsized role in the 2024 elections, Gonzales said, adding that there is a need to educate all voters on the technology.

Young voters are the ones who are likely to spend more of their time online, where mis- and disinformation has a propensity for being spread. The campaign is also planning on working with microinfluencers — smaller social media accounts that have a loyal following.

“We want this to come across as organic and coming from people like them,” Villa said. “In some ways, you would think that [young people are] the most sophisticated technologically, but I would argue that they’re also potentially the most susceptible.”

He added that some content would target specific demographics, like ads in Spanish for Hispanic voters.

Gonzales said AIandYou aims to raise $3 million for the campaign and is reaching out to apolitical groups, including venture capitalists, for funding.

Ahead of the 2024 election, some tech companies have made moves to establish regulations, with Google requiring a label on all political advertisements that use AI tools and synthetic content in their videos, images and audio.

Congress has also been grappling with how to manage AI. Several pieces of legislation are pending in both chambers, although it seems unlikely that federal guardrails will be imposed in the coming months. The Federal Election Commission is also weighing whether to regulate the use of AI in campaign ads.

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