- Some companies are using AI technology to put fake “staff” on their “about us” pages.
- An Insider report by Evan Ratliff found numerous examples of firms using such images.
- One company owner said he added fake employees to make his company appear bigger than it really was.
Some companies are using fake, AI-generated images of “staff” who don’t exist on their “about us” pages in an attempt to make their company look bigger.
An investigation by Evan Ratliff for Insider found companies were using Generative Adversarial Network (GAN) software to create AI-generated pictures on their websites to give the impression that these “people” were staff members.
Ratliff spoke to Lukas, the man behind an Austrian test-prep company called takeIELTS, who confirmed he had used several fake images on its “about us” page. Ratliff noticed several anomalies in the “employees,” with one wearing only one earring and another with one side of his face shaved closer than the other.
Despite the company appearing to have plenty of positive reviews from legitimate customers, Lukas told Ratliff that the impression of a large workforce improved takeIELTS’s credibility: “It conveys the right message that it’s a big company working with professionals.”
“That, I guessed, was most likely the rationale behind a lot of the ‘about us’ sites,” Ratliff noted, adding that some companies may want to “project a level of diversity they had never obtained” by bulking out staff rosters.
Ratliff said when he checked in on takeIELTS months later, Lukas had removed all the fake images and changed the company’s name.
The use of GANs to create “nonexistent people” online has proliferated in recent years alongside the growing capabilities of AI, but usually are used as part of a scam or in a bid to influence elections.
“They aren’t meant to impersonate anyone, or steal an identity. They’re meant to impersonate everyone, to mimic the fundamentals of human appearance with increasing fidelity,” Ratliff wrote.
The website of another company, Informa Systems, which sold law enforcement training materials to the City of Austin Police Department, was covered with fake images. An image of the company’s supposed chief marketing officer, “Roger Tendul,” had appeared on 30 other sites, Ratliff found. Just one Informa Systems employee, Mark Connolly, appeared to be real.
Ratliff said there are now companies developing software aimed at detecting fake images on company websites and elsewhere on the internet.