Image Source – Google | Image by James Vincent
A fictitious network of journalists, analysts, political commentators has been used by different private media outlets to voice positive opinions about the certain Gulf States, a report from The Daily Beast has revealed.
In the investigation report, it was found that about 19 phoney identities of authors were created with AI-generated headshots and used to churn out favorable op-eds published in mainly conservative publications.
It’s not the first time this advanced technology has been manipulated for personal interest, though it’s rare to see the same technology exploited for creating online deception for the masses.
In a report published in The Associated Press last year, a fake LinkedIn account was found using an AI-driven Headshot for establishing a network of potential spies, trying to make contacts with the targeted professionals.
Similar technology is being used to create fake online personas in sites such as ThisPersonDoesNotExist.com. The most interesting feature of this technology is that each profile picture is uniquely created so that they can’t be traced back to the original picture (hence proven fake).
However, the existing version of AI headshots is not impeccable. They have some flaws that are easily identified such as asymmetrical facial structure, abnormal features, blurry hair, weirdly melted earlobes and faded background.
Some of the fake authors, reported in the Daily’s Beast investigation, shared similar abnormal features driven from AI technology, while others just have stolen personifications.
The investigators found mutual links between those profiles that share a number of similar attributes and concluded that they are all part of one fictitious network of journalists, aiming to establish a coordinated propaganda campaign on the online platforms.
However, the mastermind behind this propaganda hasn’t been found yet. Considering the quality of opinionated pieces published by those fake authors, they do contain certain editorial values. Those op-eds mostly emphasized on placing more sanctions against Iran, favored the specific Gulf States like The United Arab Emirates, and heavily criticized Qatar.
The fake authored op-eds were published on various US media outlets such as The Washington Examiner and the American Thinker, including Middle Eastern publications like The Jerusalem Post and Al Arabiya. After the The Daily Beast report, twitter has cancelled 15 accounts owned by fake writers as a result.
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