Experts Concerned as AI-Driven National News Networks Using Fake Bios Proliferate

More articles written by artificial intelligence (AI) pretending to be real people and covering different topics such as weather, local politics and crime continue to pop up online. This comes as more news outlets try to make more use of the rapidly developing tech.

While this may sound harmless, experts warn that relying too much on artificial intelligence may possibly boost the spread of misinformation and damage the credibility of news organizations. Some media companies that have used artificial intelligence to publish their news have seen it backfire, with companies such as CNET enduring embarrassment over factual errors.

Gannett, the biggest newspaper chain owner, also stopped experimenting with AI to report on sports games in high school after being criticized by the public. “Sports Illustrated,” an American sports magazine, also had to delete some articles from its site after discovering that they were published under fake names.

Others are welcoming the use of this tech, however.

Hoodline, a news outlet founded about a decade ago, is based in San Francisco. At some point in the past, the outlet employed a group of journalists. Since it expanded into a national network of local sites that cover events and news in major cities countrywide, the outlet has switched to using AI almost full-time. Hoodline’s website is filled with articles generated by artificial intelligence, with the company even giving a disclaimer at the bottom of its pieces.

Zachary Chen, CEO of Impress3, stated that despite using artificial intelligence, the company was still transparent with readers and continued to provide valuable reporting. Impress3 operates as Hoodline’s parent company, having acquired the outlet in 2020. The outlet still has human employees, including dozens of editors, some journalist researchers and on-the-ground journalists who conduct research on and write original stories about their neighborhoods.

Chen also revealed that Impress3 was generating revenue to hire more human journalists in the future.

Screenshots from Hoodline in 2023 show that the outlet had gone as far as to create author bylines using fake information and headshots generated by AI. The fake biographies and headshots are no longer on the site and have been replaced with a badge reading AI next to each article byline. The company still uses human names.

Experts have warned that such practices may reduce the public’s trust in news, with the senior VP of News Literacy Project, Peter Adams, arguing that the way Hoodline uses artificial intelligence purposely tricks readers. The News Literacy Project is focused on educating the public on how to identify credible information.

Companies that are at the forefront of AI development such as Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) will have plenty to do to limit the harms that can potentially manifest when the technologies aren’t used responsibly.

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