September 30, 2022

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Researchers say deepfake accounts are making the rounds on LinkedIn

2 min read

A new report has said that fake accounts with computer-generated faces are now a thing on the professional networking website, LinkedIn.

Renée DiResta of the Stanford Internet Observatory, who had made a name for herself in the past analyzing Russian disinformation campaigns online, said she began the research after she came across a profile on the website that had tried to connect with her.

The person asked her, “Quick question – have you ever considered or looked into a unified approach to message, video, and phone on any device, anywhere?” According to the bio in this person’s profile, they had an undergraduate business degree from New York University. Some of their interests included CNN and Melinda French Gates.

Something just didn’t look right about the profile image, and that’s because the person didn’t really exist. It was generated by artificial intelligence. DiResta and her colleagues then got to work looking for more artificial profiles on the website and soon they had over a thousand profiles they believed were not real people.

While deepfakes are often used in the context of bullying and in some cases political matters, it seems in this case the objective of digital chicanery is simply to spread the word about a business. The deepfakes, while unethical, are basically posh spam, and if you do as you’re asked by the fake profile, you’ll just be taken to a real-life salesperson.

According to NPR, which looked into the matter, when these real people were asked about the deepfakes they said they only knew that “outside marketers” had been hired but they had no idea computer-generated images were being used as a kind of digital cold -caller.

There’s nothing illegal about using such images, and now that deepfake images can fool most people who aren’t actually looking for a flaw, the practice is a cheap way of drumming up business. Nonetheless, LinkedIn, owned by Microsoft Corp, removed the profiles after being informed about them.

“Our policies make it clear that every LinkedIn profile must represent a real person,” LinkedIn spokesperson Leonna Spilman told NPR. “We are constantly updating our technical defenses to better identify fake profiles and remove them from our community, as we have in this case. At the end of the day, it’s all about making sure our members can connect with real people, and we’re focused on ensuring they have a safe environment to do just that. ”

Photo: Tommy Van Kessel / Unsplash

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