Dec 28, 2019

Facebook purges accounts that used AI-generated profile photos

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Hundreds of political Facebook accounts, groups and pages — and 72 Instagram accounts — have been purged after using fake, AI-generated profile photos to masquerade as Americans, the company announced.

Why it matters: This is the first time Facebook has seen “a systemic use" of AI-generated photos in profile pictures "to make accounts look more authentic," Facebook head of security policy Nathaniel Gleicher told the New York Times.

Yes, but: Gleicher also told the Times "that this AI technique did not actually make it harder for the company’s automated systems to detect the fakes, because the systems focus on patterns of behavior among accounts."

The big picture: Social media platforms face an uphill battle against misinformation ahead of the 2020 presidential election, as new tactics emerge and evolve.

Details: Many of the posts, which originated in the U.S. and Vietnam, targeted President Trump's impeachment and promoted conservative ideology and "family values and freedom of religion," Facebook said.

  • The accounts involved are tied to Epoch Media Group, parent company to the Epoch Times, Facebook found.
  • The group denied Facebook's findings in an email to the NYT.
  • The outlet was banned from placing ads on Facebook in August, after CNBC reported that it hid its connection to ads on the platform promoting Trump and conspiracy theories.

Go deeper: Misinformation haunts 2020 primaries

Go deeper

Axios-Ipsos poll: America’s big racial divide on police, virus

Data: Ipsos/Axios survey; Note: ±3.2% margin of error; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

A new Axios-Ipsos poll finds that America has a massive racial gulf on each of our twin calamities — trust in police, and fear of the coronavirus.

  • 77% of whites say they trust local police, compared with just 36% of African Americans — one of many measures of a throbbing racial divide in Week 11 of the Axios-Ipsos Coronavirus Index, taken the week George Floyd was killed by a white policeman in Minneapolis.
Updated 32 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Updates: George Floyd protests nationwide

Police officers wearing riot gear push back demonstrators outside of the White House on Monday. Photo: Jose Luis Magana/AFP via Getty Images

Protests over the death of George Floyd and other police-related killings of black people continued for a seventh day across the U.S., with President Trump threatening on Monday to deploy the military if the unrest continues.

The latest: Four police officers were struck by gunfire while standing near a line in St Louis on Monday after a peaceful demonstration, Police Chief John Hayden said early Tuesday. They were all taken to hospital with non-life threatening injuries. He said a small group of people had thrown rocks and fireworks at police officers.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 6,273,402 — Total deaths: 375,683 — Total recoveries — 2,697,873Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 1,811,277 — Total deaths: 105,147 — Total recoveries: 458,231 — Total tested: 17,340,682Map.
  3. Public health: Nearly 26,000 coronavirus deaths in nursing homes have been reported to federal health officials —Coronavirus looms over George Floyd protests across the country.
  4. Federal government: Trump lashes out at governors, calls for National Guard to "dominate" streets.
  5. World: Former FDA commissioner says "this is not the time" to cut ties with WHO.
  6. 🎧 Podcast: The virus didn't go away.