CNET secretly used artificial intelligence in articles that did not disclose that fact, staff say

CNET secretly used artificial intelligence in articles that did not disclose that fact, staff say

Last week, we reported that the leading tech news site CNET it had been quietly publishing dozens of articles that had been written by an AI system.

After a public outcry, we discovered that despite the Red Ventures-owned publication’s promise that all AI-generated articles were being diligently checked by a human editor, the AI ​​was making many extremely basic mistakes. CNET it responded by issuing a lengthy correction and placing a warning label on the rest of the content, plus, oddly enough, adding a disclaimer to many human-written articles. about AI themes.

if all CNETThe AI-generated articles had been marked as such, you could probably dismiss the whole thing as a sad and miserable attempt to weed out the jobs of entry-level writers.

But several experts have now made a more startling claim: In addition to content marked as AI-produced, the tech site has also been secretly posting AI-generated material that was not labeled as written by bots.

“They only care about generating content and don’t care about quality/editing as long as the content is ranked in [search engine optimization]”, a former employee told us. “They use AI to rewrite the introductions every two weeks or so because Google likes the updated content.”

AI rewrites, the former employee said, are meant to manipulate Google search rankings, and are not good news for human readers looking for high-quality work.

“Eventually it gets so bad that about every four months a real editor has to look at it and rewrite it,” they said. “Then the process starts all over again.”

Taking a step back, that’s a big accusation. If these claims are true, AI-generated content has covertly penetrated deep into a once-revered titan of tech publishing, so extensively that CNET readers can no longer authoritatively say whether a given item on the site was created by a machine, a human, or a combination of both.

A CNET The spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment, but in a story published today, the edge corroborated our source’s allegations in several ways. A source told the publication, for example, that CNET in fact, he has been using artificial intelligence tools for much longer than he has publicly admitted. One such AI system, the source said, has already been in use for eighteen months, while the oldest flagged AI content on CNET He’s only about two months old.

In general, according to the edgeAI technology has taken over CNET and other sites owned by its parent company, Red Ventures, without significant internal discussion or, in many cases, without notice.

“I don’t know if it was heralded in some grand way,” said one CNET staff member said the edge. “It just showed up.”

the edge also aired a tell-all story about a now-deceased senior editor at CNET. On the employee’s last day at the store, according to the site, she sent a farewell email to hundreds of colleagues. In the email, which was also obtained by futurismthe publisher criticized the company for its use of AI technology and made another claim about the company’s alleged use of AI in materials that were not marked as being written by bots.

This time, he said, the materials came in the form of email newsletters. And like the articles we reviewed, she said, these newsletters contained serious factual errors.

“The advice was generated by drawing from CNET’s previously published cybersecurity and privacy coverage,” he wrote, “but after it was rephrased by VR’s proprietary AI tool, that language was used to generate factually inaccurate information about the tools.” of privacy and cyber security, along with the advice that it would cause direct harm to readers.

The message ended with advice: “Do not take as fact any editor’s rebuttal that all quality news outlets engage in unethical practices,” he wrote.

“Ethical standards (and robust internal debates about them) are alive and well in the world’s best news outlets,” he continued. “I’ve had the privilege of seeing this firsthand on many of them, including CNET.”

Email caused such chaos in the newsroom, according to another ex CNET employee we spoke to, that leadership sent out a mass email to address it.

Unfortunately, said that former employee, the email from the company contained only “the same kind of crap” that CNETThe response to the story was first made public last week.

“Almost all the blame for where the company is now – its mass layoffs, its complete reorganization, its subsequent push into referral marketing and AI-based content to save or make money – falls at the feet of Red Ventures, CNETcurrent owner,” the former staff member told us.

The company has “squeezed as much blood as they can out of this stone, and with all the bad news surrounding CNETRV’s current situation, it seems that there is not much left to give, “he added.” I’m pretty sure RV will continue to milk CNET‘s until the negative press gets to be too much, at which point he will probably liquidate the company or just shut down the entire operation. I wouldn’t be surprised either.”

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