LinkedIn knows there are fake accounts on its site. Now he wants to help users notice them

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In recent months, bots have been a major issue for many who follow the social media industry. But bots aren’t just a problem for Twitter. LinkedIn, often considered a more tame social platform, is not immune to fraudulent behavior that experts say can be difficult to detect and is often perpetrated by sophisticated and adaptable bad actors. The professional networking site faced criticism last year for accounts with AI-generated profile photos used to market or promote cryptocurrencies, as well as other fake profiles that list large corporations as employers or apply for high-profile jobs. LinkedIn is now rolling out new features to help users assess the authenticity of other accounts before joining them, the company told CNN Business, in an effort to boost trust in the platform, which is often key to finding jobs and making professional connections. in our defense” against abusive behavior, LinkedIn vice president of product management Oscar Rodriguez said in an interview, “from my perspective, the best defense is empowering our members to make decisions about how they want to participate.” .Microsoft-owned LinkedIn says it already removes 96% of fake accounts with automated protections.According to its latest transparency report, the company removed 11.9 million fake accounts at sign-up in the second half of 2021 and another 4.4 million before as reported by other users. (LinkedIn does not disclose an estimate of the total number of fake accounts on its platform.) Starting this week, however, LinkedIn will offer some users the option to verify their profile using a work email address or phone number. This verification will be enabled to a new “About this profile” section, which will also show when the profile was created and last updated to provide users with additional context about the account they may be considering connecting. If the account was recently created and has other potential telltale signs, such as an unusual work history, this may be a sign that users should exercise caution when interacting with it. The verification option will be available to a limited number of companies at first, but will become more available over time, and the “About this profile” section will be rolled out globally in the coming weeks, according to the company. The platform will also start alerting users if a message they receive appears suspicious — such as those that invite the recipient to continue the conversation on another platform, including WhatsApp (a common step in cryptocurrency scams), or those that ask for personal information. “None of these signals are suspicious activity in and of themselves … there are a lot of perfectly good and good accounts that joined LinkedIn last week,” Rodriguez said. “The general idea here is that if a participant sees one, two or three flags, I want them to take a moment to think, ‘Hey, do I see something suspicious here?’ The approach is somewhat unique. among social media platforms. Most, including LinkedIn, allow users to file a report if they suspect inappropriate behavior, but don’t necessarily offer tips on how to spot it. Many services also offer verification features only for celebrities and other public figures. LinkedIn says it has also improved its technology to detect and remove accounts using AI-generated profile photos. The technology used to create AI-generated images of fake people has come a long way in recent years, but there are still some indications that the human image could have been created by a computer. For example, this person may only have one earring, their eyes are perfectly focused on their face, or their hair is strangely styled. Rodriguez said the company’s machine learning model also looks at smaller, hard-to-perceive signals, sometimes at the pixel level, such as how light scatters across an image, to detect such images. Even third-party experts say that identifying and removing bots and fake accounts can be a complex and highly subjective exercise. Bad actors can use computer and human control to run an account, making it harder to tell if it’s automated; computer systems can quickly and repeatedly create numerous fake accounts; one person can simply use a real account to perpetuate the fraud; and the artificial intelligence used to detect invalid accounts is not always a perfect tool. With this in mind, LinkedIn updates are designed to give users more information as they navigate the platform. Rodriguez said that while LinkedIn is starting with profile and messaging features, it plans to extend the same contextual information to other key decision-making points for users. “This journey to authenticity is really much bigger than the problem of fake accounts or bots,” Rodriguez said. “Essentially, we live in an ambiguous world, and the notions of what is a fake account or a real account, what is a good investment opportunity or a job opportunity are all ambiguous decisions.” The job search process always involves some leaps of faith. However, with its latest updates, LinkedIn hopes to take away some of the unnecessary uncertainty of not knowing which accounts to trust.

In recent months, bots have been a major issue for many who follow the social media industry. But bots aren’t just a problem for Twitter.

LinkedIn, often considered a more tame social platform, is not immune to fraudulent behavior that experts say can be difficult to detect and is often perpetrated by sophisticated and adaptable bad actors.

The professional networking site faced criticism last year for accounts from AI generated profile pictures used to market or promote cryptocurrencies and more fake profiles listing large corporations as their employers or apply for high-profile jobs.

LinkedIn is now rolling out new features to help users evaluate the authenticity of other accounts before connecting with them, the company told CNN Business. in an attempt to build trust on a platform that is often key to finding a job and making professional connections.

“While we’re constantly investing in our defenses” against abusive behavior, LinkedIn vice president of product management Oscar Rodriguez said in an interview, “from my perspective, the best defense is empowering our members to making decisions about how they want to participate.”

Microsoft-owned LinkedIn says it already removes 96% of fake accounts with automated protection. In the second half of 2021, the company removed 11.9 million fake accounts at signup and another 4.4 million before other users reported them, according to the latest data transparency report. (LinkedIn does not disclose an estimate of the total number of fake accounts on its platform.)

Starting this week, however, LinkedIn is giving some users the option to verify their profile using a work email address or phone number. This verification will be included in the new About This Profile section, which will also show when the profile was created and last updated to give users more context about the account they may be considering connecting with. If the account was recently created and has other potential signals, such as an unusual work history, this may indicate that users should exercise caution when interacting with it.

The verification option will initially be available to a limited number of companies, but will become more available over time, and the “About This Profile” section will be rolled out globally in the coming weeks, according to the company.

The platform will also start alerting users if a message they receive appears suspicious – for example, one that invites the recipient to continue the conversation on another platform, including WhatsApp (a common step in cryptocurrency scams) or those that ask for personal information.

“None of these signals are suspicious activity in and of themselves … there are a lot of perfectly good and well-intentioned accounts that joined LinkedIn last week,” Rodriguez said. “The general idea is that if a participant sees one, two or three flags, I want them to think for a moment, ‘Hey, do I see something suspicious here?’

The approach is somewhat unique among social media platforms. Most, including LinkedIn, allow users to file a report if they suspect inappropriate behavior, but don’t necessarily offer tips on how to spot it. Many services also offer verification options just for celebrities and other public figures.

LinkedIn says it has also improved its technology to detect and remove accounts using AI-generated profile photos.

The technology used to create AI-generated images of fake people has advanced significantly in recent years, but there are still some indications that the human image could have been created by a computer. For example, this person may only have one earring, their eyes are perfectly focused on their face, or their hair is strangely styled. Rodriguez said the company’s machine learning model also looks at smaller, hard-to-perceive signals, sometimes at the pixel level, such as how light scatters across an image, to detect such images.

Even third-party experts say that identifying and removing bots and fake accounts can be difficult and highly subjective. Bad actors can use computer and human control to run an account, making it harder to tell if it’s automated; computer systems can quickly and repeatedly create numerous fake accounts; one person can simply use a real account to perpetuate the fraud; and the artificial intelligence used to detect invalid accounts is not always a perfect tool.

With this in mind, LinkedIn updates are designed to give users more information as they navigate the platform. Rodriguez said that while LinkedIn is starting with profile and messaging features, it plans to expand the same contextual information to other key decision-making points for users.

“This path to authenticity is really much bigger than the issues around fake accounts or bots,” Rodriguez said. “Essentially, we live in an ambiguous world, and the notions of what is a fake account or a real account, what is a good investment opportunity or a job opportunity are all ambiguous decisions.”

The job search process always involves some leaps of faith. However, with its latest updates, LinkedIn hopes to take away some of the unnecessary uncertainty of not knowing which accounts to trust.

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