A network of fictional journalists, analysts and political advisors has been used to place opinion articles that are favorable to certain Gulf states in a number of media Investigation of The daily beast has uncovered. At least 19 fake personas have been used to write comments published in dozens of mostly conservative publications. AI-generated headshots of potential authors led people to believe that the authors were real people.
It is not the first time that AI is used in this way, although it is unusual for machine learning to be used for online misinformation in the wild. Last year a Report from The Associated Press I found a fake profile on LinkedIn that is part of a network of likely spies trying to connect to professional goals and that uses an AI-generated headshot.
AI-generated profile pictures created by websites like ThisPersonDoesNotExist.com have some unique advantages when it comes to creating fake online personas. The most important feature is that each image is generated uniquely, which means that they cannot be traced back to a source image using reverse image search (and therefore quickly turned out to be fake).
However, the current generation of AI headshots is not flawless. You share a Number of tells togetherThis includes strange looking teeth, asymmetrical features, hair that doesn't blur, strange melted earlobes and blurry background images.
Some of them appear to have been AI-generated using the artificial intelligence software shown in ThisPersonDoesNotExist. Take "Joseph Labba" here. pic.twitter.com/gty67tIkMs
– Adam Rawnsley (@arawnsley) July 6, 2020
Some of these features can be seen in a series of headshots used by fake writers uncovered by The daily beastExamination. However, others only use stolen avatars. The personas have a number of attributes in common that indicate that they are part of a single, coordinated campaign:
The personas identified by The daily beast usually contributed to two linked pages, The Arab eye and Persia now;; had Twitter accounts in March or April 2020; presented themselves as political advisers and freelance journalists who were mainly based in European capitals; have lied about their academic or professional qualifications in wrong LinkedIn accounts; used fake or stolen avatars that have been manipulated to prevent the search for reverse images; and connected with or expanded the work of the other.
Although it is not clear who created the network, the comments published by the fake authors share certain editorial values. They call for more sanctions against Iran, praise certain Gulf states such as the United Arab Emirates and criticize Qatar (currently subject to a diplomatic and economic embargo by the UAE and other Middle East states for the country's alleged support for terrorism). .
The network was used to create Op-Eds that were released in US stores like that Washington Examiner and the American thinkeras well as Middle Eastern newspapers like The Jerusalem Post and Al Arabiyaand even in the English-language publication based in Hong Kong South China tomorrow post. As a result of The daily beastTwitter has blocked 15 accounts of the fake authors.