back to article 1,000-plus AI-generated LinkedIn faces uncovered

Two Stanford researchers have fallen down a LinkedIn rabbit hole, finding over 1,000 fake profiles using AI-generated faces at the bottom. Renée DiResta and Josh Goldstein from the Stanford Internet Observatory made the discovery after DiResta was messaged by a profile reported to belong to a "Keenan Ramsey". It looked like a …

  1. JassMan

    A recent study found that the average person has no better odds than chance at distinguishing a real face from an AI-generated one. Think you can do better? Test yourself at this site. ®

    So am I weird in some way? I just tried 30 faces and was told every one was correct. I will admit that if I had to do each one in less than 5 secs it would be a different matter but quite a few were so poor that it took less than 3 secs. My worst case was about 8. I will also admit that 3 of them I trusted the naff background to reduce the time I took.

    1. Falmari Silver badge

      I only did 10 got them all right. But it is made easier because you are shown 2 images one is real one is generated choose the real one.

      If I was shown each face on its own it would have been much more difficult to say real or generated.

      1. Little Mouse Silver badge

        Like you, all correct, although for the first few that I saw I had to take a bit of time to decide. After 20 or so I've started to fly through them, taking only a second or two to choose.

        Sounds like prime AI/Machine Learning fodder to me, so I imagine that it won't be too long before we have AIs generating images that don't contain the obvious giveaway artefacts.

        1. Andy 68

          You can also cheat, I think, and use the picture name (check the url when you click) to identify the real one

        2. Falmari Silver badge

          @Little Mouse "After 20 or so I've started to fly through them, taking only a second or two to choose.

          Sounds like prime AI/Machine Learning fodder to me"

          Little Mouse or is that Skynet? ;)

    2. ThatOne Silver badge

      > I just tried 30 faces and was told every one was correct

      Same here, but then again knowing that one of the pair has to be fake helps a lot, it reduces the difficulty by 50%. I'm sure we all would had been fooled a couple times if they came one by one.

      BTW flat lighting is the most obvious giveaway, after unnatural imperfections: When AI learns to make realistic, contrasted lighting fakes will be much harder to spot.

  2. Adrian 4 Silver badge

    missing accessories

    Isn't a single earring a specific fashion statement or style ?

    1. anothercynic Silver badge

      Re: missing accessories

      Generally on a woman, no. On men, non-binary or non-gender-conforming people, maybe.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: missing accessories

      A single earring... a patch over one eye... a cutlass gripped in the blackened teeth...

      1. Kane Silver badge

        Re: missing accessories

        "A single earring... a patch over one eye... a cutlass gripped in the blackened teeth..."


        1. MrBanana Silver badge

          Re: missing accessories

          Hold on me hearties, it's not September 19th just yet.

    3. Vometia has insomnia. Again. Silver badge

      Re: missing accessories

      Pretty much. I usually only wear one, partly because one ear's always given me hassle and I just can't be arsed any more, but it's not that uncommon and I feel I'm just channelling my ageing goth/punk vibe. And my hair naturally kinda blurs into the background especially when exposed to sea air when it just becomes a giant mass of frizz, leaving me looking much like Alice from Dilbert.

  3. spold Silver badge


    the fake ones came across as more intelligent.....

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Also....

      They were failures as sales people; they weren't nearly as vacuous as the stereotypical plaid suited salesman of the 70s...

      1. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

        Re: Also....

        Many years ago I got an interview for a technical sales job for a company in Leeds. I was given a psychometric test to complete before the interview, then shown through to the manager. He said "I've got some good news and some bad news for you. You're a nice chap, but I'm not giving you the job." and then went to explain his psychometric software had been a good investment, had always got characters correct, and that I just wasn't slimy enough to be a salesman. He said "I need someone that never had real friends as a kid, and has always been selling themselves, and that's not you."

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Also....

          Might not help pay the bills, but that sounds like a compliment.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This kinda describes me...

    #Clothes often appear to be irregular

    #Teeth can appear irregular or blend into lips

    #Hair appears to have excess flyaways

    #Glitches in skin

  5. Totally not a Cylon

    All Marketing/Sales are bots

    I just assume all Sales/Marketing 'persons' are bots.....

    Same dumb approach, ignore what is said, convinced they could 'sell snow to Eskimos'....

    1. ThatOne Silver badge

      Re: All Marketing/Sales are bots

      > I just assume all Sales/Marketing 'persons' are bots

      Why, aren't they???

  6. bombastic bob Silver badge

    back when I was in high school...

    (somewhat of a joke alert as well)

    Back when I was in High School some students made up a fake student to mess with the substitute teacher's head. They turned in homework, and did other things to make the student seem real. I had my picture taken as this student and it ended up in the yearbook. (another guy did something similar, when he saw me doing it, someone who had a real chance at a sports career in baseball, though i never actually saw his name on any team)

    So, why not just create fake profiles for fun? (not like nobody ever did this with a fake name on some platform someplace...)

    (Still leveraging them for profit is an odd twist, but not an unexpected one)

    1. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

      Re: They turned in homework

      That would have been a complete non-starter at the school I attended.


      Wasn't it Microsoft who used to send out marketing letters from an imaginary person called IIRC Pat Harrison?

    2. MrBanana Silver badge

      Re: back when I was in high school...

      In my first computer job in the late 1980s we had a fictitious employee called John Toombs. His ephemeral existence was defined by the many job functions he got shuffled around in the company. These promotions were announced in Computer Weekly, and the other UK PC rags, just to get the company name in the press every couple of months.

  7. Oh Matron!

    M-M-M-M-M-M-M-M-M-M-Max Headroom...

    Whenever I think of AI generated people, I can only think of Max Headroom... Weird to think that it was nearly 40 years ahead of it's time....

    1. Vometia has insomnia. Again. Silver badge

      Re: M-M-M-M-M-M-M-M-M-M-Max Headroom...

      I was watching some of that just yesterday, funnily enough; the original feature film, that is, which had to be ripped from VHS tape as last time I looked it's never been released on any medium. Just as well I had the presence of mind to tape it when it was first broadcast back in 1985...

    2. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: M-M-M-M-M-M-M-M-M-M-Max Headroom...

      But Max Headroom was played by a real actor, Matt Frewer.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    But do they have

    Genuine People Personalities?

    1. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: But do they have

      And more importantly, given this is LinkedIn, how many are named Lintilla.

  9. JimmyPage

    This would be really big

    if LinkedIn actually mattered

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: This would be really big

      It’s appalling how many people feel enslaved to it and how many recruiters expect it.

      I’ve no intention of ever using it. When my current job goes then I will just not bother looking for another.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    LinkedIn are almost certainly aware of all this going on, as it allows them to claim 30 million UK users. An amazing figure when you consider the population is around 67 million, 11m of which are 0-14 and about the same are over 65... so they've managed to 'sign up' around 2/3 of the available working age population

    1. Freezus

      RE: managed to 'sign up' around 2/3 of the available working age population

      Given it has been around for 18+ years and it's incredibly easy to create a basic account, it wouldn't surprise me if this figure was correct even if the majority are dormant.

      Certainly among office workers everyone I have ever searched for seems to have one.

    2. JimmyPage

      RE: managed to 'sign up' around 2/3 of the available working age population

      When LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook et al started out, I created some bogus accounts so I could get an understanding. Those accounts have gone on to lead a far more interesting life than me.

      Given that I haven't used them for years, the endless parade of emails I get from "people who know me" etc etc does really underscore how the value of these platform is slowly, but inevitably, sinking to zero.

    3. John D'oh!

      I recently deleted 2/3s of my "contacts" as they were either people I don't like, barely know, haven't seen for 10 years, recruiters (who obviously fall into the first 2 categories);or duplicates, in that some people seem to sign up with their work emails, and thus have to create a new account each time they change jobs.

  11. sabroni Silver badge

    Amazon denied any link to, or responsibility for, the profiles and their tweets.

    Phew, that's a relief. Imagine if Amazon had been doing that!

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Tip of the iceberg?

    I'd be curious to know how much that number would increase if they managed to include fake accounts with real faces taken from stock photos, or even from random pics found on google images.

    1. sreynolds

      Re: Tip of the iceberg?

      I mean I have and/or have had about 20 fake accounts. It all started back in 2005 when some pimp started ploughing my list for contract gigs using my name and rep.

      I am surprised that people take it seriously these days. It is is full decline just like facebook. Yet another good investment by Microsoft. If M$ didn't have the cash cows of Office and Windows I doubt they would be running things like github into the ground and certainly would not be buying crap like linkedin.

  13. The Dogs Meevonks Silver badge

    I've got a very high Fake Spotting Rate

    Just went to the site to see how easily I could spot fake images... averaged around the 85% mark.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    This article appears to resember the tactics described in articles about Madbird:

    "Jobfished: the con that tricked dozens into working for a fake design agency"

  15. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

    Coincidentally, I've just launched a filter that makes your photos more like they were generated by AI. It fuzzes up the background, messes up your clothes and your hair, removes or adds an earring, and makes you slightly piebald and half tanned. You can thank me when they come for your peers but leave you alone because they think you are a bot.

    I'm calling it BorisLook.

    I'm also teaming up with aManFromMars to produce a filter that obfuscates your prose.

    1. Vometia has insomnia. Again. Silver badge

      “I'm also teaming up with aManFromMars to produce a filter that obfuscates your prose.”

      That's absolute genius. And absolutely terrifying. D:

  16. MJI Silver badge

    About 80% accurate

    Some people look like AI generated rather than good AI pictures.

    Most though are very obvious

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