Generative AI like ChatGPT is being used to create fake news sites

Generative AI chatbots are now being used to generate news stories and blog posts for online content farms in an attempt to attract ad revenue from web users. While experts have warned about the rise of AI-generated content farms for years, the widespread availability of tools like OpenAI’s ChatGPT has now made this a reality. A recent report by NewsGuard, an organization that rates the trustworthiness of news sites, identified 49 sites that appear to be almost entirely written by AI software.

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These content farms typically have generic names, such as Biz Breaking News and Market News Reports, and are stuffed with programmatic advertising that’s bought and sold automatically. The sites attribute news stories to generic or fake authors, and much of the content appears to be summaries or rewrites of stories from established news sites like CNN. While most of the sites are not spreading misinformation, some publish blatant falsehoods. For instance, CelebritiesDeaths.com posted a story claiming that Joe Biden had died in early April.

NewsGuard used tell-tale errors, such as the one found in the fake Biden death story, to identify all the sites in its report. These errors are often left in the text by the chatbot, revealing the involvement of AI. Searching for phrases like “As an AI language model” can reveal where chatbots are being used to generate fake reviews and other cheap text content. NewsGuard also verified the text on these sites was AI-generated using detection tools like GPTZero, although these tools are not always reliable.

Noah Giansiracusa, an associate professor of data science who has written about fake news, notes that the creators of these sites will continue to spin up content farms given the cheap costs of production. The pressure to use AI is increasing at a time when online news is facing a wave of layoffs and shutdowns. Many established news outlets are also experimenting with AI to lower production costs, sometimes with undesirable outcomes. For example, when CNET started using AI to help write posts, a review of the system’s output found errors in more than half of the published stories.

AI-generated content farms are becoming more widespread, with AI chatbots being used to generate news stories and blog posts for online sites. These sites are usually filled with programmatic advertising and often use tell-tale errors to reveal the involvement of AI. The pressure to use AI is increasing as online news faces a wave of layoffs and shutdowns, and even established news outlets are experimenting with AI to reduce costs, albeit with some undesirable outcomes.