Sports Illustrated Created Articles Using AI-Generated Authors, Magazine Says Content Came From Third-Party

 Sports Illustrated appeared to have been publishing AI-generated content attributed to fake authors — complete with bogus biographies and headshots, according to a report by Futurism.

The exposé included examples of authors whose personas existed only on the website of the leading American sports magazine, which also allegedly used artificial intelligence to churn out articles.

“The content is absolutely AI-generated,” an anonymous source told Futurism. “No matter how much they say that it’s not.”

According to the outlet, Sports Illustrated listed a writer named “Drew Ortiz” — a white young-adult male with short brown hair and blue eyes who grew up in a farmhouse and enjoyed the greater outdoors. But the profile photo paired with Ortiz’s biography is a headshot listed for sale on a website that sells AI-generated photos.

“There’s a lot,” another source told Futurism. “I was like, what are they? This is ridiculous. This person does not exist.”

“At the bottom [of the page] there would be a photo of a person and some fake description of them like, ‘Oh, John lives in Houston, Texas. He loves yard games and hanging out with his dog, Sam.’ Stuff like that. It’s just crazy.”

TheStreet, another publication owned by The Arena Group, was also found to engage in similar practices, according to the report.

When Futurism asked the magazine’s publisher, The Arena Group, for comment, the company did not respond immediately.

The outlet noted that after it reached out for comment, all the AI-generated authors disappeared from Sports Illustrated’s site — a practice the report claimed regularly happened before the sports magazine created new phony authors.

The report further emphasized the magazine’s website did not disclose that the articles credited to the writers’ names used artificial intelligence. However, it eventually added a disclaimer explaining that the content was “created by a 3rd party” and that the “Sports Illustrated editorial staff are not involved in the creation of this content.”

Sports Illustrated — founded in 1954 — prides itself on being a magazine that penetrates coverage of social issues, which helped it become the first magazine with a circulation of over one million to win the National Magazine Award for General Excellence twice.

However, using undisclosed AI-generated content for the magazine appears to show its fall from grace and further adds to a growing problem with “thinking” computer systems in media that only erode the public’s trust and pose a question of ethics in news publishing.

According to Variety, Authentic Brands Group purchased Sports Illustrated from Meredith for $110 million in 2019. The company then licensed media and publishing rights for the Sports Illustrated brand to Maven, which eventually changed its name to Arena Group Holdings in 2021.

The Arena Group later told Variety that a third-party company named AdVon Commerce claimed that humans wrote the content it produced for Sports Illustrated and has since ended its partnership with the company.

“The articles in question were product reviews and were licensed content from an external, third-party company, AdVon Commerce,” a spokesperson for Arena Group said in a statement to Variety. “A number of AdVon’s e-commerce articles ran on certain Arena websites. We continually monitor our partners and were in the midst of a review when these allegations were raised. AdVon has assured us that all of the articles in question were written and edited by humans.”

The Arena Group rep continued, “According to AdVon, their writers, editors and researchers create and curate content and follow a policy that involves using both 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 while our internal investigation continues and have since ended the partnership.”

Following the report, Sports Illustrated Union — a group created to safeguard the magazine’s standards and integrity — later released its own statement surrounding the accusations.

“We, the workers of the SI Union, are horrified by a story on the site Futurism, reporting that Sports Illustrated’s parent company, The Arena Group, has published AI-generated content under SI’s brand with fabricated bylines and writer profiles,” the statement said. “If true, these practices violate everything we believe in about journalism. We deplore being associated with something so disrespectful to our readers.”

“We demand answers and transparency from Arena Group management about what exactly has been published under the SI name. We demand the company commit to adhering to basic journalistic standards, including not publishing computer-written stories by fake people.”

Sports Illustrated Created Articles Using AI-Generated Authors, Magazine Says Content Came From Third-Party Sports Illustrated Created Articles Using AI-Generated Authors, Magazine Says Content Came From Third-Party Reviewed by Your Destination on November 28, 2023 Rating: 5

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