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Sports Illustrated accused of using AI journalists

by on29 November 2023

First fake news and now fake journalists

Futurism has accused Sports Illustrated of publishing AI-generated articles under fake author biographies. The magazine has since removed the articles and released a statement blaming the issue on a contractor.

A fake reporter "Drew Ortiz" (pictured) was given a backstory and picture which suggested he was real.

"Drew has spent much of his life outdoors and is excited to guide you through his never-ending list of the best products to keep you from falling to the perils of nature," Sports Illustrated said. "Nowadays, there is rarely a weekend where Drew isn't out camping, hiking, or just back on his parents' farm." At least the last part is true... he really isn't doing all those things.

People started to smell a rat when it was revealed that Ortiz didn’t exist. He has no social media presence and no publishing history. His profile photo on Sports Illustrated is for sale on a website that sells AI-generated headshots, where he's described as a "neutral white young-adult male with short brown hair and blue eyes."

What is surprising is that Sports Illustrated executives seemed to believe that they could keep all this secret. Everyone knows that a hacked-off newsroom leaks like a Welsh sieve.

Then a mole inside Sports Illustrated said that there were loads of AI-generated writers being used by Sports Illustrated, and another said that content was “absolutely AI-generated… no matter how much they say that it's not."

 After the magazine’s owner Arena Group was asked for comment, all the AI-generated authors disappeared from Sports Illustrated's site without explanation. However similar operations appear alive and well elsewhere in The Arena Group's portfolio.

An Arena Group spokesperson blamed a contractor for the content: "Today, an article was published alleging that Sports Illustrated published AI-generated articles. According to our initial investigation, this is not accurate. The articles in question were product reviews and were licensed content from an external, third-party company, AdVon Commerce. Many of AdVon's e-commerce articles ran on certain Arena websites. We continually monitor our partners and were amid a review when these allegations were raised. AdVon has assured us that all the articles in question were written and edited by humans.”

According to AdVon, their writers, editors, and researchers create and curate content and follow a policy that uses counter-plagiarism and counter-AI software on all content. However, we have learned that AdVon had writers use a pen or pseudo name in certain articles to protect author privacy -- actions we don't condone -- and we are removing the content. At the same time, our internal investigation continues and have since ended the partnership."

Last modified on 29 November 2023
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