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Rise of AI Scams: A New Challenge for Social Media

Published March 18, 2024
2 months ago

Social media platforms have found themselves at the nexus of technological innovation and deceit, where artificial intelligence (AI) has been co-opted by scammers to prey on the vulnerable. In a concerning trend, the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has reported a surge in complaints regarding AI-related scams, with social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube becoming battlefields against this deceptive new threat.

These sophisticated schemes often employ deepfakes and fictitious AI trading platforms, dangling the carrot of financial windfalls to lure unsuspecting individuals. With just two complaints in the year leading up to February 2023, the FTC saw this number mushroom to 14 the following year, coinciding with the widespread adoption of generative AI tools. While not overwhelmingly large, these figures are likely indicative of a larger, mostly unreported issue, given that social media users often report issues to the platforms themselves rather than to the FTC.

The demographics of the victims are particularly troubling. Older and financially precarious individuals, those who can least afford to be duped, are often the targets. One notable case involved a Los Angeles resident who lost their life savings of $7,000 to a deepfake video of Elon Musk on YouTube, promising to double investments with a bogus partnership involving Tesla.

But the problem doesn't stop at celebrity deepfakes. On platforms like Facebook, including its social video service Reels and the photo-sharing app Instagram, users have reported fraudulent ads for AI trading platforms that end up holding their funds hostage or demanding additional fees for the return of deposited sums.

YouTube, owned by Alphabet Inc., acknowledges the issue and claims to be investing resources into combatting these deepfake ads. Already, steps have been taken with the removal of over 1,000 videos linked to the promotion of such scams.

Furthermore, fraudsters are leveraging AI to create bots that mimic human interaction on dating sites. These bots coax users into purchasing virtual gifts or more chatting credits, capitalizing on the desire for connection.

Every new technology carries potential risks, and the rise of AI is no different. The cunning integration of AI into scams represents a new frontier for social media companies' ongoing battle against those who exploit their platforms. But the challenge is immense, as AI enables scammers to operate on a scale that threatens to overwhelm current detection capabilities.

Businesses and individuals are advised to be wary of offers that seem too good to be true, especially when they involve the latest technological advancements. The societal fascination with AI can blind people to the reality of scams, making the need for awareness and skepticism all the more crucial.

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