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AI-generated spam is starting to fill social media. Here's why

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AI-generated spam is starting to fill social media. Here's why


Casey Morris, an attorney in Northern Virginia, recently started checking Facebook again after a long break. Among posts from friends and family, she noticed a strange trend.

“The caption will say, ‘Close your eyes 70% and see magic.’ And without squinting at all, it’s very obviously sort of an image of Jesus, but it will be made up of, like, vegetables and a tractor and a little girl that are sort of distorted,” she said.

That wasn’t the only oddity in Morris’ feed. Similar pictures with identical captions recurred. So did different, more emotionally exploitative posts depicting disabled mothers and children in the mud or smiling amputees, with captions asking for a birthday wish.

“It has made Facebook a very bizarre, very creepy place for me,” Morris said.

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Between their subject matter, stylistic clues and odd errors, it quickly became obvious to Morris that these images were fake — the products of artificial intelligence.

They’re not being posted by people she knows or follows. Instead, Facebook is suggesting she might be interested in them — and they seem to be really popular.

“They’re getting thousands of reactions and thousands of comments [from] people who seem to think they’re real, so wishing them a happy birthday or saying something religious in the comments,” she said.

“These weren’t sporadic images here or there that only a few people were interacting with. They were really getting a ton of traction,” said Josh Goldstein, a research fellow at Georgetown University.

Morris isn’t the only Facebook user whose feed has started to fill up with AI-generated spam. Reporters at the tech website 404 Media tracked a surge in apparently AI-generated posts on Facebook, which is owned by Meta, in recent months. AI-generated images like these are starting to show up on other social media sites too, including Threads, which is also owned by Meta, and LinkedIn.

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Spam and scams

On Facebook, in many cases, it appears that the platform’s own algorithm is boosting AI posts.

When researchers at Georgetown and Stanford universities investigated more than 100 Facebook pages that routinely post AI content — sometimes dozens of times a day — they found that many are engaging in scams and spam.

“We saw AI-generated images of everything you can imagine, from log cabins to grandmas with birthday cakes to children with masterful paintings that just simply couldn’t be real,” said Josh Goldstein, a research fellow at Georgetown University and co-author of the preprint study, which hasn’t yet undergone peer review.

Goldstein and his co-author also found that Facebook is actively recommending some of this AI content into users’ feeds — potentially creating a cycle where the posts get more engagement, so they get recommended to even more users. Some individual posts from the pages they analyzed have accumulated hundreds of thousands and even millions of interactions.

“These weren’t sporadic images here or there that only a few people were interacting with. They were really getting a ton of traction,” Goldstein said.

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Their analysis found that some of these pages are classic spam, posting links to websites where they can collect ad revenue. Others are scammers, advertising AI-generated products that don’t appear to actually exist.

But many of the pages don’t have a clear financial motivation, Goldstein said. They seem to simply be accumulating an audience for unknown purposes.

“It could be that these were nefarious pages that were trying to build an audience and would later pivot to trying to sell goods or link to ad-laden websites or maybe even change their topics to something political altogether,” Goldstein said. “But I suspect more likely, many of these pages were simply creators who realized it was a useful tactic for getting audience engagement.”

Clickbait has always been on social media. But in the past few years, Facebook has doubled the amount of posts it recommends to users, as it seeks to keep up with changes in social media pioneered by TikTok. On a recent earnings call, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg told analysts that recommended posts now account for about 30% of users’ feeds.

A shift from reality-based images to the uncanny

At the same time, AI-generated content is now easier than ever for anyone to make. Together, these dynamics are creating a recipe for weird renderings of Jesus, disturbing birthday posts and impossible architecture and handicrafts to go viral.

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“It’s mimicking, like, all of the elements of what made something go viral. But they’re putting in the most bizarre images I’ve ever seen,” said Brian Penny, a freelance writer who has been tracking AI on Facebook for nearly two years. He’s part of a group dedicated to sharing and debunking AI images.

Penny has seen a shift from pictures that have some grounding in reality — like the AI-generated depiction of Pope Francis in a puffy coat that went viral last year — to something far more uncanny.

“We work to reduce the spread of content that is spammy or sensational because we want users to have a good experience, which is why we offer them controls to what they see in their feed,” a spokesperson for Meta told NPR in a statement.

Facebook says it will soon begin labeling some content created by AI tools.

Facebook says it will soon begin labeling some content created by AI tools.

The company plans to begin labeling AI-generated content created with some industry-leading tools soon. Last week, TikTok started applying similar labels to some AI-generated posts on its platform.

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In the meantime, the surge in AI spam is turning off many people.

Katrina McVay, who lives in Grand Rapids, Mich., says she has had to discourage her mom from buying woodwork and other home decor she sees on Facebook — that are clearly fake.

“She’d be like, ‘Wouldn’t this be so cool for your daughter?’” McVay said. “And I’m like, ‘That’s not real, though.’”

Some Facebook users are considering leaving the platform entirely because of their frustrations with being recommended spammy AI images.

“Am I supposed to sift through all this to see that my cousin’s just been to the Sahara desert?” asked Borys Rzonca, a Los Angeles furniture designer. “It’s no longer worth it for me.”

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Beyond finding AI spam on Facebook annoying, many people NPR spoke with say they’re worried about the larger stakes of artificial images showing up everywhere.

“It just sort of reinforces people’s disbelief and … makes it harder to see what is real,” said Hobey Ford, a puppeteer in North Carolina who has seen AI images pop up in Facebook groups dedicated to science, claiming to depict new discoveries.

“And I think that’s dangerous in our world right now,” he said.

Copyright 2024 NPR

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South Carolina Woman Gets Jail Time For Animal Neglect – FITSNews

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South Carolina Woman Gets Jail Time For Animal Neglect – FITSNews


Colleton County woman ran nonprofit “rescue …”

A South Carolina magistrate judge sentenced a Summerville woman to ten days behind bars on animal neglect charges in a case involving the horrific treatment of animals by a woman purporting to run a rescue sanctuary.

Kimberly Brianne Couture, 42, was sentenced by magistrate judge Elbert O. Duffie after she pleaded guilty last month to 39 counts of failing to provide care to animals and one count of failing to properly dispose of a deceased animal. Couture’s plea followed several hours of testimony by veterinarians, animal control officers, a shelter volunteer and a horse rescue representative.

Duffie sentenced Couture to ten days in jail for one of the horses, ten days in jail for one of the dogs and a day in jail per animal for the remaining 37 animal charges – with these sentences running concurrently. He also imposed a $200 fine for the improper burial or disposal of a dead animal.

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Acting on a tip from a concerned citizen, on May 26, 2022 Colleton County officials obtained and executed a search warrant on a property rented by Couture on Running Creek Lane in Cottageville, S.C. This property was leased by Couture as a sanctuary for an animal rescue nonprofit, “Healing Hearts from Sole to Soul.”

When officers arrived on the property, they found numerous animals in deplorable conditions.

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“Many of the animals were in very poor body condition and most were living in poor conditions, including piles of old feces, dirty water and little to no shelter for the dogs,” a release from Colleton County’s animal services division noted. “Additionally, the remains of at least two animals were found at the fence line of a neighboring property covered with used cat litter and other refuse.”

Animal control officials took custody of 61 animals including 20 goats, 15 dogs, 13 cats, six horses, one calf and two chickens.

Colleton animal services director Laura Clark praised the efforts of her staff and volunteers who “worked several hours per day for weeks to feed and provide medical care and improve the living conditions for the animals until they could all be removed and new homes could be found.”

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As for the sentence, she said it sent a “strong message that failure to follow the state laws and county ordinances in Colleton County will result in consequences.”

This media outlet has broken several animal neglect and cruelty cases recently. Anyone with information on similar cases is urged to reach out to us in addition to contacting local law enforcement or their local animal control office.

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THE PRESS RELEASE…

(Colleton County)

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR …

Jenn Wood (Provided)

Jenn Wood is FITSNews’ incomparable research director. She’s also the producer of the FITSFiles and Cheer Incorporated podcasts and leading expert on all things Murdaugh/ South Carolina justice. A former private investigator with a criminal justice degree, evildoers beware, Jenn Wood is far from your average journalist! A deep dive researcher with a passion for truth and a heart for victims, this mom of two is pretty much a superhero in FITSNews country. Did we mention she’s married to a rocket scientist? (Lucky guy!) Got a story idea or a tip for Jenn? Email her at jenn@fitsnews.com.

***

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WANNA SOUND OFF?

Got something you’d like to say in response to one of our articles? Or an issue you’d like to proactively address? We have an open microphone policy here at FITSNews! Submit your letter to the editor (or guest column) via email HERE. Got a tip for a story? CLICK HERE. Got a technical question or a glitch to report? CLICK HERE.





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South Carolina Gamecocks Introduced to Their Likely New Starting Quarterback, LaNorris Sellers

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South Carolina Gamecocks Introduced to Their Likely New Starting Quarterback, LaNorris Sellers


A South Carolina native himself, LaNorris Sellers is next in line to become THE quarterback for the Gamecocks. Get to know this potential star.

Going into the 2024 campaign, Shane Beamer and company will be looking to replace fifth-round NFL draftee quarterback Spencer Rattler. LaNorris Sellers appears to be the heir-apparent to the role after a strong Spring Practice Period.

Listed at 6-foot-3 and 240 pounds, sophomore LaNorris Sellers boasts a sturdy frame for the quarterback position. He has the arm strength to make 60+ yard throws through the air and puts a noticeable zip on the ball on short to mid-range throws. According to On3 (2023), “LaNorris Sellers’ athleticism, rushing ability and upside as a passer remind us of Jalen Hurts. Sellers may have a stronger arm and is bigger than Hurts at the same stage” (para. 1). This kind of comparison to a former CFB star should have Gamecock fans excited about their future at quarterback.

As a senior in high school, Sellers led South Florence High School out of Florence, South Carolina to their first state championship. In the championship game, Sellers went 10-for-14 and 260 yards with five touchdowns through the air while tacking on another 192 yards and one score on the ground. This stellar performance capped a sensational senior season that had Sellers pass for nearly 3,000 yards and 45 touchdowns with another 1,300 yards and 17 touchdowns rushing.

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In his first year as a Gamecock, Sellers had very little run as a true freshman. Sellers was a backup to now NFL quarterback Spencer Rattler but showed flashes of his upside in the little action he saw. In mop-up duty against Furman in 2023, Sellers went 4-for-4 passing with 86 yards for 2 touchdowns including a 50-yard touchdown pass to Tyshawn Russell. Sellers also had an electric 36-yard touchdown against Vanderbilt later on in the season.

In the 2024 Spring game, Sellers controlled the offense early and often leading his team to back-to-back scoring drives while going 9-of-11 passing for 70 yards through the air and rushing 5 times for 38 yards and a touchdown on the ground. The flashes Sellers has shown in his limited time in college should give Gamecock fans plenty of confidence in their new signal caller.

Off the field, South Florence High School reported that Sellers graduated with a final GPA of 4.95. Sellers seems to truly embody what it means to be a true student-athlete.

If his past performances are any indication, South Carolina may have something special in their next starting quarterback in LaNorris Sellers. Gamecock fans should be on high alert come fall.



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What The Numbers Say About South Carolina’s Regional Competition In Raleigh

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What The Numbers Say About South Carolina’s Regional Competition In Raleigh


South Carolina’s baseball team found out on Monday afternoon that they’ll be playing in Raleigh, NC, the home of the NC State Wolfpack, in the NCAA Regional round. Along with the Wolfpack, the Gamecocks are joined by the No. 4-seeded Bryant Bulldogs and No. 3-seeded James Madison Dukes, Carolina’s first opponent, in the grouping.

With the Gamecocks having not played any of these teams this season, there’s little known information about them heading into the NCAA Tournament. Through the numbers I researched on warrennolan.com and the NCAA’s stat logs, here’s a comprehensive breakdown of each team:

RPI: 15th

Combined Quad 1 & 2 Record: 16-17

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Strength of Schedule: 3rd

Team ERA: 6.30 (168th nationally)

WHIP (walks and hits given up per inning pitched): 1.58 (129th nationally)

Batting Average: .284 (119th nationally)

Runs Scored Per Game: 7.7 (62nd nationally)

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RPI: 21st

Combined Quad 1 & 2 Record: 18-21

Strength of Schedule: 5th

Team ERA: 5.08 (63rd nationally)

WHIP: 1.43 (40th nationally)

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Batting Average: .275 (170th nationally)

Runs Scored Per Game: 7.6 (67th nationally)

RPI: 44th

Combined Quad 1 & 2 Record: 11-17

Strength of Schedule: 41st

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Team ERA: 6.01 (147th nationally)

WHIP: 1.62 (145th nationally)

Batting Average: .300 (49th nationally)

Runs Scored Per Game: 7.5 (76th nationally)

RPI: 115th

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Combined Quad 1 & 2 Record: 1-8

Strength of Schedule: 264th

Team ERA: 5.25 (77th nationally)

WHIP: 1.54 (107th nationally)

Batting Average: .282 (137th nationally)

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Runs Scored Per Game: 7.5 (75th nationally)

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