Russia is using Tom Cruise to spread a conspiracy about the Paris Olympics

A poster of a fake documentary falsely claiming that it features Tom Cruise (Picture: MTAC)

Olympics has fallen’ — this is what Russia wants people to think ahead of the upcoming summer Games in France as part of a disinformation campaign to sow fears of terrorism.

Banned from participating in the 2024 Paris Olympics over its invasion of Ukraine, Russia has waged a secret influence campaign to discredit the sports event, a new report from Microsoft’s Threat Analysis Center has warned.

Tactics dating back to the Soviet Union meet the age of AI — hackers, with links to the Kremlin, have been using AI-generated impersonations, fake news stories and videos to spread the ‘anticipation of violence’ in the French capital, and deter people from attending the Games.

Top Gun star Tom Cruise has become a bizarre victim of this operation.

A spoof CIA warning about increased threat levels in Paris (Picture: MTAC)

A fake documentary titled ‘Olympics Has Fallen’ was released on Telegram in June last year.

It used an AI-generated voice impersonation of the Hollywood actor, in which he lambasted the International Olympic Committee’s leadership.

Fake five-star reviews from The New York Times, The Washington Post and the BBC were put on the poster.

The documentary also used an image of the Mission Impossible star, but it is needless to say he did not actually take part in it.

Some of the fake reports being peddled by pro-Kremlin websites (Picture: MTAC)

Parts of Paris will be off-limits without a QR code this summer…

Parts of Paris will be closed off for people without a specific QR code during the 2024 summer Olympics, which starts in July.

Special measures will be in place throughout the city as part of increased security around the Games.

Anyone wishing to enter certain zones, including residents, will have to apply for a special Pass Jeux (Games pass) on a platform run by police.

It mostly applies to people driving, but even pedestrians will need to show a QR code to enter an area called the ‘grey zone’ around the River Seine in the centre, where the opening ceremony will take place.

For more information, Metro.co.uk has an easy explainer for people heading to the French capital in the coming weeks.

Most recently, a video purporting to be from Euro News falsely claimed that Parisians are buying property insurance in anticipation of terrorist attacks ahead of the Games.

In another fake news report – this time allegedly from France24 – it was claimed that 24% of purchased tickets for Olympic events had been returned due to fears of attacks.

The latest attempt to dissuade people from attending the Games saw spoof CIA press releases warning them to stay away.

Further attacks have seen pro-Russian clones of legitimate media outlets peddling propaganda and castigating Emmanuel Macron for his ‘showmanship’ ahead of the Olympics.

Microsoft identified Russian cyber-actor groups, Storm-1679 and Doppelganger, as those behind the attacks.

Microsoft has been collecting evidence of the Russian-linked disinformation campaign (Picture: MTAC)

The report added: ‘The most worrisome disinformation advanced by pro-Russian actors has sought to impersonate militant organizations and fabricate threats to the Games amidst the Israel-Hamas conflict.

‘During last fall, Storm-1679-linked social media accounts posted images claiming to show graffiti painted in Paris that threatened violence against Israelis attending
the 2024 Games.

‘In several of the images, Storm-1679 referenced the attacks at the 1972 Munich Olympics, where members of Black September – an affiliate of the Palestine
Liberation Organization – killed 11 members of the Israeli Olympic team and a West German police officer.’

This disinformation is sinister, but it is not unexpected.

Fake graffiti referencing the attacks at the 1972 Munich Olympics (Picture: MTAC)

Macron in April stressed he had ‘no doubt’ Russia was targeting the Olympics.

Microsoft also warned that the Kremlin’s propaganda machine is ‘unlikely to hold back’ in leveraging its network of actors to undermine the Games in the weeks to come.

It added: ‘We are likely to see renewed efforts to launch influence campaigns messaging in English, German, French, and other languages to maximize visibility and traction online as Russian-affiliated actors aim to reach a broader audience.

‘Actors are likely to use a mix of propaganda facilitated by generative AI across social media platforms to continue their campaigns against France, the IOC, and the Olympic Games.’

Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at webnews@metro.co.uk.

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