Face­book re­moves China’s fake AI-en­hanced ac­counts

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Technology Intelligen­ce - By Han­nah Boland

THEY had real names and con­vinc­ing faces – but the dozens of Face­book ac­counts spout­ing pro-Bei­jing views for months were not hu­man be­ings.

The web of fake ac­counts re­moved by the so­cial net­work this week were com­pletely bo­gus – part of a Chi­nese pro­pa­ganda ef­fort that used state of the art

AI-gen­er­ated faces to spread lies and mis­in­for­ma­tion around the world.

Fol­low­ing an in­quiry, Face­book said it had re­moved 155 fake ac­counts, nine groups and six In­sta­gram ac­counts that vi­o­lated its pol­icy against for­eign or gov­ern­ment in­ter­fer­ence.

The clus­ters had orig­i­nated mainly in China, and had fo­cused on south-east Asia and the US. They used vir­tual pri­vate net­works to con­ceal their iden­tity – and their lo­ca­tion.

The fake ac­counts posted on is­sues such as Bei­jing’s in­ter­est in the South China Sea, as well as crit­i­cis­ing an in­de­pen­dent news or­gan­i­sa­tion in the Philip­pines. In the US, the ac­counts had pushed mes­sages both for and against US pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump and his Demo­cratic op­po­nent Joe Bi­den. Chi­nese of­fi­cials have de­nied claims they are seek­ing to in­flu­ence the forth­com­ing pres­i­den­tial elec­tion.

The re­port was re­leased to­gether with a study from an­a­lyt­ics firm Graphika, which said it had been given a list of as­sets by Face­book for an in­de­pen­dent as­sess­ment.

It said the Chi­nese net­work of fake ac­counts had used pro­file pic­tures gen­er­ated through AI. The tech­nique, known as gen­er­a­tive ad­ver­sar­ial net­works, is a way of “sidestep­ping the need to clothe a fake ac­count in a stolen pro­file pic­ture”, Graphika said. This means those at­tempt­ing to find fake ac­counts can­not use re­verse im­age searches to find them.

“It re­mains to be seen whether even more threat ac­tors will turn to GAN gen­er­a­tion as a source of pro­file pic­tures,” Graphika said.

Face­book said it had also dis­cov­ered a sec­ond net­work, and took down 57 Face­book ac­counts, 31 pages and 20 In­sta­gram ac­counts, which it said were fo­cused around the Philip­pines. An in­ves­ti­ga­tion sug­gested the net­work had links to the Philip­pine mil­i­tary and Philip­pine po­lice, Face­book said.

The Chi­nese ac­counts had pushed mes­sages both for and against US pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, and Joe Bi­den

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