Facebook is quickly being overrun by dubious, AI-generated junk — which is somehow attracting huge amounts of attention from its aging user base.

Worse yet, according to a new analysis by Stanford and Georgetown University researchers, first spotted by 404 Media, scammers and spammers are using this lowbrow content to grow their audiences on Facebook.

Even with the proliferation of AI image generators, the novelty has clearly yet to wear off for users on the largest social media network, a veritable social media dinosaur.

And scammers are abusing that persistent interest, in addition to support from Facebook's unwitting algorithms, to drive people to other websites filled with ads, sell products, and build bigger followings, according to the researchers.

It's only the latest sign that the internet is struggling to ward off a tidal wave of AI-generated garbage, further eroding the quality of content we're exposed to on a daily basis.

Last week, screenshots of a Facebook post drawing in hundreds of likes and comments with pictures of a "shrimp Jesus" went viral on X-formerly-Twitter.

"WHAT IS HAPPENING ON FACEBOOK," one concerned user wrote.

Another screenshot shows a Facebook account sharing an image of what is purportedly a 112-year-old woman who made her own birthday cake. As expected, the AI failed to spell the words "happy birthday" correctly, and couldn't even get the number-shaped candles right.

"Lots of normal things happening there," another X user tweeted.

As the Stanford and Georgetown University researchers point out in their yet-to-be-peer-reviewed study, Facebook is more than likely rewarding AI spam accounts for flooding feeds with more than 50 AI-generated images a day, which are pulling in tens of millions of views.

Facebook's algorithms are ranking these images high on users' feeds, generating huge amounts of engagement. The company has long demoted links to external websites, and image posts appear to rank much higher.

Judging by the comments, the researchers found that "many users are unaware of the synthetic origin of the images, though a subset of users post comments or infographics alerting others."

Scammers are using all of this engagement to direct Facebook users to dubious websites that are littered with ads, as 404 Media found.

Thanks to Facebook's existing algorithms, the company is actively boosting these scammers' pages.

The platform's parent company Meta has yet to comment on this flood of AI-generated junk. But as the researchers suggest, there's plenty it could do to address the issue. For one, it could force pages to actively label synthetic content and implement additional transparency measures.

The social media network isn't the only company struggling with this problem. Google recently made changes to its core algorithm to penalize low effort AI-generated content.

But whether these efforts will pay off in the long run remains to be seen. Particularly with unwitting Facebook users sharing and commenting on these posts, it's unlikely we'll see the problem go away on its own.

Facebook also has an abysmal track record when it comes to the enforcement of rules and content moderation.

Given its monstrous user base of over three billion users, the 20-year-old social media network is in many ways far too big to fail.

At the same time, the company hasn't been particulately relevant for many years now, and young users have long abandoned it. Lazy AI-generated images of shrimp Jesus being passed around by its userbase will likely only make matters worse.

More on Facebook: Feds Investigating Whether Meta Profited From "Illicit" Drug Sales

Share This Article