Ukrainian student’s identity misused by AI on Chinese social media platforms

The incident highlights the ethical concerns and legal challenges posed by AI-generated misinformation.

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Olga Loiek, a 21-year-old University of Pennsylvania student from Ukraine, experienced a disturbing twist after launching her YouTube channel last November. Her image was hijacked and manipulated through AI to create digital alter egos on Chinese social media platforms. These AI-generated avatars, such as ‘Natasha,’ posed as Russian women fluent in Chinese, promoting pro-Russian sentiments and selling products like Russian candies. These fake accounts amassed hundreds of thousands of followers in China, far surpassing Loiek’s own online presence.

Loiek’s experience highlights a broader trend of AI-generated personas on Chinese social media, presenting themselves as supportive of Russia and fluent in Chinese while selling various products. Experts reveal that these avatars often use clips of real women without their knowledge, aiming to appeal to single Chinese men. Some posts include disclaimers about AI involvement, but the followers and sales figures remain significant.

Why does it matter?

These events underscore the ethical and legal concerns surrounding AI’s misuse. As generative AI systems like ChatGPT become more widespread, issues related to misinformation, fake news, and copyright violations are growing.

In response, governments are starting to regulate the industry. China proposed guidelines to standardise AI by 2026, while the EU’s new AI Act imposes strict transparency requirements. However, experts like Xin Dai from Peking University warn that regulations struggle to keep pace with rapid AI advancements, raising concerns about the unchecked proliferation of AI-generated content worldwide.