Major media outlets linked to company behind fake AI writers: report

AdVon, a “content solutions” company, has placed content on Us Weekly, LA Times, Miami Herald and more, report says

Published May 8, 2024 4:39PM (EDT)

AI robot. (Yuichiro Chino/Getty Images)
AI robot. (Yuichiro Chino/Getty Images)

AI-generated content from the same company that broke Sports Illustrated snuck its way into Us Weekly, Hollywood Live, and even the Los Angeles Times.

Futurism reports that AdVon, a “content solutions” company which published scores of articles by fictional writers in Sports Illustrated, ultimately leading to its publisher losing the rights to the name Sports Illustrated, placed work in Hollywood Life and Us Weekly, as well as the Miami Herald and Los Angeles Times.

AdVon initially employed overseas contractors to write product reviews, which employees alleged was used for language model training purposes before they were ultimately entirely replaced by AI.

Per Futurism, the L.A. Times and McClatchy, a publisher of several regional papers, have cut ties with AdVon, which denies the sole use of artificial intelligence in content creation and instead says it uses the practice responsibly in conjunction with human efforts.

AdVon previously made news for publishing reviews on a USA Today affiliate site attributed to individuals who couldn't be found online with AI-generated headshots and names, alongside content. Union representatives notified Gannett, USA Today’s parent company, which pulled down the content.

Screenshots from AdVon’s content management system acquired by Futurism suggest that the company has published over 90,000 articles for hundreds of publications.

Coinciding with the uptick in AI-generated content on popular websites, search engines are taking steps to mitigate the reach of non-human-generated material.

Google’s crackdown on so-called “site reputation abuse,” the practice of using a top-ranked publication’s domain to boost low-effort or affiliate content in search results, is aimed at keeping spammy suggestions, especially AI-generated content, off the engine.

Content posted “without close oversight of a website owner” and “intended to manipulate Search rankings” will be deprioritized under the new rules, and major search rank changes to queries like “coupon” were already visible on the engine.

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