Experts warn it’s an example of the platform’s growing problem with fake accounts. While claims of bot accounts have focused on Twitter, LinkedIn has quietly developed a fake account problem, experts say.
The CEO of crypto-exchange Binance says thousands on LinkedIn falsely claim to work for him.The FBI confirmed in June that it is actively investigating crypto scams conducted using LinkedIn.
For the past several months, the public dialogue about fake accounts on social media has centered around Elon Musk’s bid to buy Twitter, but experts warn another social networking platform is filled with potentially malicious fake accounts: LinkedIn.
This month, Changpeng Zhao, the CEO of cryptocurrency exchange Binance, tweeted that “LinkedIn has 7000 profiles of ‘Binance employees’, of which only 50 or so are real.” He called some of these accounts “scammers” and warned his followers to “be careful.”
CZ Binance (@cz_binance) August 14, 2022
Indeed, some fake accounts may be used for more than just falsely bolstering a person’s resume.
In June, the FBI confirmed to CNBC that it has active investigations into fraudulent cryptocurrency investment schemes on LinkedIn, calling them a “significant threat.”
“We expect the websites we visit to vet the other members that are signing up, whether that be a dating site or a work site like LinkedIn,” said Brett Johnson, a cybercrime expert and chief criminal officer at Arkose Labs.
Johnson says he thinks the 7,000 fake Binance profiles could indicate “some sort of cryptocurrency scam,” saying that users “go to LinkedIn, they think they’re connecting with someone who is connected with that company. They’re not. The company is not disagreeing because they don’t have time to siphon through all the LinkedIn profiles, and LinkedIn’s not really verifying anything.”
Earlier this year, Josh Goldstein, a researcher at Stanford who specializes in covert influence operations on social media platforms, surfaced more than 1,000 fake accounts with AI-generated profiles on LinkedIn over just a few weeks with Rene DiResta, his colleague at the Stanford Internet Observatory.
Goldstein said these accounts had fake work and education histories.
“We think that what’s happening here is the people behind these accounts are creating fake histories – the employment experience, the university attendance – to help the accounts blend into the information environment and to then make their messages to real Linkedin users more persuasive,” he said.
“This is likely a much wider issue than the use of AI-generated profile pictures which is the focus of our investigation, but it could undermine brand reputation and user trust in the platform,” Goldstein added.
Both Goldstein and Johnson said LinkedIn does not notify employers when new users claim to work at their company.
In a statement provided to Insider, a LinkedIn spokesperson said the company works to keep fake profiles in check.
“We enforce our policies which are very clear, fraudulent activity including fake accounts or false information is not allowed on LinkedIn. We work everyday to keep our members safe and this includes investing in automated and manual defenses, coupled with human reviewers and member reporting, to better identify fake profiles and remove them from our community, as we have in this case. You can learn more about the work we do to keep our community safe and trusted here, the spokesperson said.
Johnson said he’d like to know the data behind LinkedIn’s fake account growth.
“The question is, how many fake profiles are there? That’s a really good question that should be asked because the number tends to be much larger than people anticipate,” Johnson said.