Not just Twitter. LinkedIn has fake account problem it’s trying to fix
Anyone who depends on LinkedIn to search for jobs, find business partners or other opportunities is probably aware that the business social media site has had problems with fake profiles. While this is no different than other social media platforms, including Twitter and Facebook, it presents a different set of problems for users who want to use LinkedIn for professional purposes.
Between January 1 and June 30, more than 21 million fake accounts were detected and removed from LinkedIn, according to the company’s community report. While 95.3% of those fake accounts were stopped at registration by automated defenses, there was a nearly 28% increase in fake accounts compared to the previous six-month period, according to the company. LinkedIn says it currently has more than 875 million members on its platform.
While the Microsoft-owned professional social media platform has rolled out new features in recent months to help users better determine whether someone they’re contacting is a real or fake profile, cybersecurity experts say there are several things users can do on the platform to protect themselves protect.
Creators of fake LinkedIn profiles sometimes try to drive engagement through content that links to malicious sites, said Mike Clifton, executive vice president and chief information and digital officer at Alorica, a global customer service outsourcing firm.
“For example, we see those that revolve around posts and content promoting a job opportunity, such as a webinar, using real photos and people’s real information to legitimize the information and get others to register, often on a fake third-party website ,” Clifton said.
How to avoid being tricked by fraudulent profiles
Cybercriminals often rely on a human touch to give LinkedIn users the impression that the fake profile belongs to someone they know, or is two degrees removed from someone they know. “This has been going on for years, and at this point even sophisticated fraud detectors can still evade,” Clifton said. “As we remind our employees and customers, it is important to remain vigilant and engage cautiously on social networks to protect your information.”
Recruiters who rely heavily on LinkedIn to search for prospective employees can find fake profiles especially troublesome, said Akif Khan, vice president and analyst at research firm Gartner.
“Additionally, in other areas of fraud management – for example when manually reviewing suspicious e-commerce transactions – agents will look across social media sites, including LinkedIn, to try to see if [a] person has a credible digital footprint that would suggest they are a real person rather than a fake identity,” Khan said.
For these reasons, having fake LinkedIn profiles can serve the purposes of bad actors, Khan said.
Gartner sees the problem of fake accounts on all social media platforms. “Bad actors try to create fake identities and make them look real by leaving a credible digital footprint across different platforms,” Khan said.
The fake profiles are more likely to be set up manually, Khan said, however, where bad actors create large numbers of fake profiles – which can be used to abuse advertising processes or to sell large volumes of followers or likes on demand – they will use bots to automate the process of creating fake accounts.
The challenge for LinkedIn users is that profiles on social media platforms are easy to create and are usually not verified in any way. LinkedIn has asked users who come across any content on the platform that looks like it could be fake to report it to the company. Users should specifically be on the lookout for profiles with abnormal profile images or incomplete work history, and other indicators including inconsistencies in the profile image and education.
“Always seek confirmation from other sources when looking at an account and make decisions based on what you see,” Khan said. “The bigger issue here is for the platforms themselves. They need to ensure they have appropriate measures in place to detect and prevent automated account creation, especially at scale.”
What LinkedIn is doing to detect fakes and bots
Detection tools do exist, but their use is not an exact science. “Verifying the identity of a user when an account is created would be another effective way to make it harder to set up fake accounts, but such proof of identity would have an impact in terms of cost and user experience, Khan said. “So these platforms try to strike a balance in terms of the integrity of accounts and don’t force users to create accounts,” he said.
LinkedIn is taking steps to address the problem of fake accounts.
The site uses technology such as artificial intelligence with teams of experts to remove policy-violating content it detects before the content is available. The vast majority of detected fake accounts are caught by automated defenses like AI, according to a blog post from Oscar Rodriguez, vice president of product management at LinkedIn.
LinkedIn declined to comment further.
The Company also works with peer companies, policy makers, law enforcement and government agencies in efforts to prevent fraudulent activity on the Site.
In its latest effort to stop fake accounts, LinkedIn rolled out new features and systems in October to help users make more informed decisions about members they interact with, as well as improving its automated systems that detect inauthentic profiles and activity from the keep platform down.
An “About This Profile” feature shows users when profiles were created and last updated, along with information about whether the members had verified phone numbers and/or work emails associated with their accounts. The goal is that viewing this information will help users decide whether to accept a connection request or reply to a message.
LinkedIn says rapid advances in AI-based synthetic image generation technology have led to the creation of a deep learning model to better capture profiles created with AI. AI-based image generators can create an unlimited number of unique, high-quality profile pictures that don’t match real people, Rodriguez wrote in the blog post, and fake accounts sometimes use these convincing, AI-generated profile pictures to make a profile appear more authentic. prevent.
The deep learning model proactively checks profile photo uploads to determine if an image is AI-generated, using technology designed to detect subtle image artifacts associated with the AI-based synthetic image generation process—without requiring facial recognition or biometric analyses. to feed, Rodriguez wrote.
The model helps increase the effectiveness of LinkedIn’s automated anti-abuse defenses to help detect and remove fake accounts before they reach members.
The company also added a warning to some LinkedIn messages that include high-risk content that could affect user security. For example, users can be warned about messages asking them to take conversations to other platforms, as this could be a sign of a scam.