AI drives huge rise in fake news, photos and videos: Internet Scambusters #1,095
It's hard to believe some of the reports and images we see online - and that's okay, since most of them are probably fake news and images.
The worse news is, it's going to get worse, thanks to the soaring use of artificial intelligence.
In this week's issue, we identify the most common types of fakes and how to spot them.
Let's get started…
Don't Fall for These Fake News Scams - Or Any Others
It's not difficult to predict that, in the world of scams, 2024 is going to be a bumper year for artificial intelligence (AI). Not just because the technology is developing so fast, but also because, in the US, it's an election year, ripe for fake news, which AI excels at.
Things were bad enough in 2020, with malicious lies and deep-fake photos and videos being pumped out and shared in the millions across social media. More than 1,000 false stories were identified in the final months of that year's elections, and one particular fake was shared 30 million times.
But, hard to believe, that was before most of us had even heard of AI. Now it's in the mainstream of our lives, creating anything we ask of it in a matter of seconds. According to cybersecurity firm DeepTrace, the number of deep fakes online increased 330% from 2019 to 2020.
In the past, reading, believing, and forwarding sensational reports and images seemed a natural thing to do. Now you can't. Or, at least, you shouldn't.
Most Common Fakes
Research shows that the 7 most common fakes are:
- False news stories: completely made-up reports designed to discredit candidates, abuse the reputation of celebrities, or distort military activity in conflict zones.
- Doctored images and video: created with editing software to change speech, context, or non-existent events. This is the area we expect to see the most growth in the coming year because AI can produce these in seconds, instead of hours or days.
- Satire and parody mistaken as real: outrageous reports intended to be satirical that find their way from dedicated parody sites onto social media.
- Imposter news sites: exploiting the credibility of legitimate news brands by using similar names, fonts, logos, and website layout.
- Misleading headlines overstating claims: perhaps reflecting a real issue but summarized and slanted ignoring key details or making unsupported claims to drive mouse clicks.
- Conspiracy theories lacking evidence: playing on fears and confirming internal biases without any factual support. Often, they feed health scares, as in the pandemic.
- Posts by unscrupulous "influencers": designed to build up their follower base.
In some cases, these are created to mislead and confuse, but in others the aim is to install malware on PCs or trawl for personal information - for example by monitoring and recording "likes" on social media to identify and influence gullible individuals or build personality profiles for marketing purposes.
How to Spot False News and Deep Fakes
The absolute most important action you can take to beat the fakers is to never act on or forward material, especially with a sensational or controversial tone, without checking the source. Never.
Some of the other giveaway signs that a report or video may be fake include:
- No sources or only vague information about where the item came from
- Outrageous, improbable claims and use of inflammatory language
- Poor grammar, editing, or spelling
- Items that shock or cause you to panic but lack any confirmation
- Difficult to believe celebrity endorsements
- Controversial social media posts that urge you to share
- Images of people that don't look quite right
- Videos where the voice doesn't sync with lip movements
- Reports from sites with a known bias - political or otherwise
- Reports that contradict multiple other online sources
- Health advice that contradicts scientific consensus from experts
- Sensational emails or posts - sometimes even about you - that contain attachments or links to click
- Reports that appear only on a single website
Before sharing sensational material, give yourself time to think and check. Remember too that just because someone you know shared something with you doesn't make it true. Check it out and, if it's fake, tell them.
Responsible media websites, social media, and security professionals aren't taking these woes lying down. They're using AI to spot fake news and images, with the best detectors reporting up to a 90% success rate.
Some browser developers, including Google and Microsoft, are looking at building detectors and veracity or truth ratings into their apps. And there are already many browser extensions that can automatically run checks.
Instagram has also launched AI image recognition to detect and warn users about potential fake video content before it spreads.
Several countries, including France and Germany, have enacted laws with penalties for promoters of misinformation.
Most responsible people don't knowingly pass on fake news. A survey in 2021 showed that 60% of Americans see it as a major problem and even more worry about the number of people who believe it.
Sadly, we've reached a point in history where you can't trust a big chunk of the stuff you see online. Apart from the damage caused by fake news and images, which can be substantial, remember it's also your civic duty to avoid passing on misinformation.
This Week's Alerts
Medical breach: Hackers have reportedly stolen 9 million health records from Nevada medical transcription firm Perry Johnson. Some records contain Social Security numbers but not financial information. Affected healthcare providers have begun notifying victims. The firm has set up a call center to deal with questions: (833) 200-3558.
Have your say: The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is seeking online comments about its plans to ban junk fees and hidden add-ons in bills from the likes of cable companies and hotels. The submission deadline is January 8, 2024. To have your say, submit a formal comment.
Amazon warning: If you're an Amazon Prime user, beware of phishing emails and texts warning either that your membership expired or your account has been suspended, which are heavily circulating right now. The online retailer also says scammers are phoning customers pretending to be from Amazon and asking for confidential information. Amazon simply doesn't do this.
That's it for today -- we hope you enjoy your week!