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Google Cracks Down on Malware-Spreading Bard Knockoff Scammers

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The buzz surrounding emerging technologies such as generative AI has created an environment akin to the Wild West, where unscrupulous actors exploit consumer confusion. In response to this, Google has taken legal action against scammers accused of duping individuals into downloading an alleged “unpublished” version of its Bard AI software. Contrary to a helpful chatbot, this manipulated Bard version reportedly contained malware.

The lawsuit, filed in California, contends that individuals operating from Vietnam set up social media pages and ran ads to entice users into downloading this deceptive Bard version. Instead of providing assistance with tasks like cooking risotto, the downloaded Bard allegedly infiltrated systems, pilfering passwords and social media credentials. Notably, Facebook served as the primary distribution channel for these scammers, as outlined in the lawsuit.

Google, in an official blog post, mentioned issuing over 300 takedown requests before resorting to legal action. The lawsuit doesn’t seek monetary compensation but rather aims for an injunction to prevent the alleged fraudsters from establishing similar domains, especially with US-based domain registrars. Google anticipates that this legal outcome will act as a deterrent and establish a clear mechanism to thwart similar scams in the future.

The lawsuit underscores the vulnerability of emerging technologies to anti-consumer exploitation. In this instance, the accused scammers misrepresented Bard as a paid service requiring a download, while it is, in fact, a free web service.

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