Facebook on Friday removed what it called a global network of more than 900 accounts, pages, and groups from its platform and Instagram that allegedly used deceptive practices to push pro-Trump narratives to about 55 million users. The network used fake accounts, artificial amplification, and, notably, profile photos of fake faces generated using artificial intelligence to spread polarizing, predominantly right-wing content around the web, including on Twitter and YouTube.
It represents an alarming new development in the information wars, as it appears to be the first large-scale deployment of AI-generated images in a social network. In a report on the influence operation, researchers from disinformation groups Graphika and DFRLab noted that this was the first time they had seen the technology used to support an inauthentic social media campaign.
Profile pictures for Facebook accounts “Mary Keen” and “Jacobs Guillermo,” admins on groups associated with The BL highlighted by Graphika.
Facebook中帐户为“ Mary Keen”和“ Jacobs Guillermo”的个人资料图片的管理员，与Graphika有高度关联。
Courtesy of Graphika
The images were used to enhance the authenticity of some of the 610 Facebook accounts, 156 groups, 89 pages, and 72 Instagram accounts associated with “The BL,” a digital news outlet that described itself as a “pure mountain spring, moistening the heart of every reader” on Facebook before it was removed.
在这些图像在Facebook上被删除之前，是被用来加强与“ BL”相关的610个Facebook帐户，156个群组，89页和72个Instagram帐户中某些真实性，数字媒体称之为“纯净的山泉，滋润每个读者的心脏” 。
Ostensibly a US-based media organization, The BL network's pages were operated by users in Vietnam and the US, who Facebook says made widespread use of fake accounts to evade detection and funnel traffic to its own websites. A report by Graphika and DFRLab researchers, found that the majority of The BL network's fake accounts were used to maintain a cluster of over 80 groups and pages promoting President Trump. The accounts acting as administrators for these pages—which boasted names such as “America Needs President Trump,” “Trump for America's President,” and “WE STAND WITH TRUMP & PENCE!”—were predominantly fake and created in Vietnam.
“Fake accounts served as the administrators of Facebook groups, increased the membership numbers of those groups, liked posts on the Pages, and posted large quantities of content from TheBL-related assets,” the report notes. “This structure constituted a large-scale artificial amplification factory whose only observable function was to boost content from TheBL and, to a lesser extent, from the Epoch Times.”
On the left, admins for “Patriots for President Trump,” nine out of 15 of which used AI-generated faces, researchers said. On the right, admins for “President Trump KAG 2020," eight out of 16 of which are fake faces, according to a report.
Courtesy of Graphika
Many of these accounts used profile pictures that researchers said appeared to be created using neural networks trained on images of real human faces to create photos of people that did not actually exist. Researchers from Graphika and DFRLab found 18 images of faces in profile photos used by The BL network that they said had likely been generated using generative adversarial networks.
While the technology is capable of creating passable fake faces, it has a few obvious tells that tipped the researchers off. It works largely by mimicking visual patterns, but doesn't understand human anatomy, and struggles with backgrounds and symmetrical features, like glasses or earrings.
A profile photo for the account “Alfonzo Macias” with AI-generated inconsistencies around his glasses that Graphika said suggested the work of artificial intelligence.
由AI生成的帐户“ Alfonzo Macias”的个人资料照片的周围由于图片中眼镜导致不一致。Graphika则暗示了这是人工智能的工作结果。
Courtesy of Graphika
The above image, from the Graphika report, was taken from the profile photo for “Alfonzo Macias,” an admin for one of the groups in The BL network. “Note the asymmetry in the glasses and also the poorly defined background,” the report says. “The authors checked this image with experts at the University Federico II of Naples, who assessed that this image was GAN-generated with 99.9 percent certainty.”
上图是Graphika报告中的图片，是BL网络中一个群组的管理员“ Alfonzo Macias”的头像照片。该报告说：“请注意眼镜的不对称性以及背景的清晰度不佳。” “作者与那不勒斯费德里科第二大学的专家核对了这张图像，他们评估了这张图像是由GAN生成的，具有99.9％的确定性。”
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