Published in AI

OpenAI sued for defamation

by on09 June 2023

It was only a matter of time

OpenAI is facing a defamation lawsuit filed by Mark Walters, who claims that the AI platform falsely accused him of embezzling money from a gun rights group in statements delivered to a journalist.

The lawsuit argues that ChatGPT is guilty of libel and alleges that the AI system "hallucinated" and generated false information about Walters.  Walters' attorney John Monroe said that the software was making up stuff about people.

According to the complaint, a journalist named Fred Riehl thought he would save a bit of time while reporting on a court case and asked ChatGPT for a summary of accusations in a complaint and provided ChatGPT with the URL of the real complaint for reference.

The case Riehl was reporting was filed by a group of several gun rights groups against Washington's Attorney General's office (accusing officials of "unconstitutional retaliation", among other things, while investigating the groups and their members) and had nothing at all to do with financial accounting claims.

When Riehl asked for a summary, instead of returning accurate information, ChatGPT "hallucinated" that Mark Walters' name was attached to a criminal complaint -- and that it falsely accused him of embezzling money from The Second Amendment Foundation, one of the organisations suing the Washington Attorney General in the real complaint.

Riehl contacted Alan Gottlieb, one of the plaintiffs in the actual Washington lawsuit, about ChatGPT's allegations concerning Walters, and Gottlieb confirmed that they were false. None of ChatGPT's statements concerning Walters were in the complaint.

The false answer ChatGPT gave Riehl alleged that Walters was treasurer and Chief Financial Officer of SAF and claimed he had "embezzled and misappropriated SAF's funds and assets."
When Riehl asked ChatGPT to provide "the entire text of the complaint," it returned an entirely fabricated complaint, which bore "no resemblance to the actual complaint, it even made up a case number."

Walters is looking for damages and lawyers' fees.


Last modified on 09 June 2023
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