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Hyperlocal network Hoodline runs AI-generated articles from made up reporters

CNN’s Hadas Gold reveals how Hoodline, a network of local news sites that originated in San Francisco, has been quietly (and sometimes highly deceptively) using AI-generated articles to pad out its content. Gold writes:

[A] closer look at the bylines populating the local site and a national network of others — Sarah Kim, Jake Rodriguez, Mitch M. Rosenthal — reveals a tiny badge with the words “AI.” These are not real bylines. In fact, the names don’t even belong to real humans. The articles were written with the use of artificial intelligence.
A disclaimer page linked at the bottom of its pages notes to readers, “While AI may assist in the background, the essence of our journalism — from conception to publication — is driven by real human insight and discretion.”

Hoodline chief executive Zachary Chen defended the site, saying it plays an important role in covering news deserts across the US. However, while more recent AI articles have carried an “AI” motif, pages accessed through the Internet Archive told a murkier story. Gold continues:

Screenshots captured last year by the Internet Archive and local outlet Gazetteer showed Hoodline had further embellished its AI author bylines with what appeared to be AI-generated headshots resembling real people and fake biographical information. “Nina is a long-time writer and a Bay Area Native who writes about good food & delicious drink, tantalizing tech & bustling business,” one biography claimed.

This fakery, at least, has since been removed.

Gold’s piece should raise the alarm from any publisher thinking about using AI-generated work on their sites, and not just because it’s embarrassing and ethically questionable.

The News/Media Alliance, which represents more than 2,200 US publishers, has supported news organizations taking legal action against AI developers who are harvesting news content without permission. Danielle Coffey, the group’s chief executive, told CNN that Hoodline’s content “is likely a violation of copyright law.”

Read the full story.