USA Today-Owned Website Reviewed Faces Suspicion Over AI-Generated Articles
Several unknown writers have recently produced dubious articles for the USA Today-owned website Reviewed, leading employees to suspect the use of artificial intelligence (AI) technology. Staff members at Reviewed, a platform that offers shopping recommendations, have raised concerns about the vague and suspicious nature of the articles, as well as the alleged lack of existence of many of the supposed authors.
Senior staff writer Jaime Carrillo and his colleagues noticed a sudden influx of articles promoting products that lacked detail and coherence, which prompted their suspicions of AI-generated content. Further investigations on Google and LinkedIn have reportedly failed to unearth any evidence of the writers’ existence.
The appearance of these mysterious reviews coincided with a recent one-day walkout by Reviewed staff members who were demanding a new contract. Unionized through the NewsGuild of New York, the employees perceive the articles as a covert attempt by parent company Gannett to undermine them, especially as many media organizations are experimenting with AI content to cut costs.
Responding to the allegations, Gannett, the owner of USA Today, denied that the articles were generated by AI. Instead, they explained that the articles were produced in collaboration with a marketing firm to drive paid search engine traffic, acknowledging that the content did not meet their affiliate standards. Gannett stated that the marketing agency assured them the content was not AI-generated.
However, it is worth noting that USA Today has partnered with AdVon Commerce, a company that openly employs artificial intelligence solutions for e-commerce purposes. On the company’s LinkedIn page, they proudly declare their focus on AI solutions.
One of the few identified authors affiliated with the suspicious articles stated on his LinkedIn profile that he is experienced in polishing AI generative text, further fueling suspicions about the use of AI technology.
This is not the first time Gannett has faced issues related to AI-generated articles. In August, the company had to halt the use of AI-generated content for high school sports, as the technology made numerous mistakes, leading to error-laden articles.
In light of the situation, many of the dubious articles have already been removed from Reviewed’s platform. Gannett assures its vendors and stakeholders that complying with ethical standards is of utmost importance.
As the investigation continues, it remains to be seen whether AI technology was indeed involved in the creation of the suspicious articles. The incident sheds light on the ongoing debate surrounding the role of AI in the media industry, particularly its potential impact on content quality and workforce stability. With stakeholders closely monitoring the situation, the repercussions for Gannett and Reviewed may extend beyond the removal of questionable articles and require additional accountability measures.