Researchers have unmasked a campaign where artificially generated faces were used to spread pro-Trump messages, research firm Graphika writes in a report on Friday. This was the first time for the researchers to encounter the use of fake faces on such a large scale.
Facebook announced on Friday that it had taken a large-scale pro-Trump campaign offline . 610 Facebook accounts, 156 Facebook groups, 86 Facebook pages and 72 Instagram accounts were involved. These accounts have been deleted by Facebook.
Facebook sent the relevant accounts to research firm Graphika, which they analyzed together with the Atlantic Council's Digital Forensic Research Lab (DFRLab). They found that many of the accounts involved were not real people and used AI-generated faces for their profile photo.
The accounts posted memes and other content about political news and issues in the US, including President Donald Trump's impeachment, elections, political candidates, and topics such as trade and religious freedom. The Facebook messages were often automated and forwarded the readers to messages outside of Facebook.
“In addition to pro-Trump material, they posted messages attacking his critics and rivals, often giving a biased statement and encouraging readers to respond if they agreed,” the researchers write in their report.
They discovered the fake people through details such as deformed ears and distorted backgrounds, but also concluded that technology “is evolving rapidly towards generating more credible photos.”
$ 9 million spent on promotion
According to Facebook, the people behind the campaign spent 9 million dollars (8.1 million euros) on advertising to promote their messages. That is almost a hundred times as much as was spent by the Russian troll army in 2016 in the run-up to the presidential election.
Facebook found a link between the campaign and The BL, a media company based in the US. The Facebook pages of this company were managed by individuals in the US and Vietnam. The BL was again linked to Epoch Media Group, also a US-based media organization, and people in Vietnam who worked on her behalf.
With artificial intelligence, employees disguised themselves as Americans to join Facebook groups and post articles from the media company. The BL has been removed from Facebook for violating Facebook's anti-spam and disinformation policies.AI, automatic, elections, face, gezicht, verkiezingen