Companies Are Faking ‘Staff’ Portraits of People Who Don’t Exist

Infroma Systems
Informa Systems

Companies are using photos of fake staff that are generated by artificial intelligence (AI) programs. The pictures are published under the “About Us” section of a company’s website to give a false impression of a larger workforce.

The shocking revelations are a result of an investigation by journalist Evan Ratliff for Business Insider who found companies are using AI image generators to create a staff to look more impressive online.

Ratliff spoke to a company that confirmed it had been using photos of people that don’t exist on its website, passing them off as staff.

“It conveys the right message that it’s a big company working with professionals,” says Lukas, who runs an Austrian test-prep company called takeIELTS.

Ratliff says that he noticed several anomalies among the “employees.” One AI-generated person was only wearing one earring, while another had one side of his face shaved closer than the other.

The journalist also notes that some companies want to “project a level of diversity,” as well as pretend that the company has more staff than they really do.

Ratliff, who appears on the Wondery Podcast, says that when he checked in on takeIELTS months later, Lukas had removed all the fake images and changed the company’s name.

More Fake Staff

AI-image generation relies upon neural network programs that are fed by millions of real-life photos used to inform the software, such as DALL-E, which the user can control via text prompts.

“They aren’t meant to impersonate anyone, or steal an identity. They’re meant to impersonate everyone, to mimic the fundamentals of human appearance with increasing fidelity,” Ratliff writes.

Another company that Ratliff says is using fake photos is Informa Systems, which has allegedly sold law enforcement training materials to the City of Austin Police Department.

Informa Systems
Informa Systems

An image purporting to be Roger Tendul, Informa System’s apparent chief marketing officer, has been used widely across the internet, including for a dating website’s promotional imagery.