CNET Removes the Word ‘Staff’ From Bylines of Dozens of AI-Generated Stories

The site makes adjustment following article highlighting the content, although CNET had a standing disclosure about its automated content production process.  

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CNET on Wednesday slightly modified its byline on certain articles generated via artificial intelligence (AI) software to remove the word “staff,” spurred by a recent report that wrestles with the degree of human editor involvement – and what “staff” even means.

CNET had published AI-generated explainer articles bylined as “CNET Money Staff” but has since changed those to “CNET Money.”

An article posted on the Recurrent Ventures-owned Futurism website says CNET began the experiment around last November. The story says CNET’s “automation technology” definition is “a stylistic euphemism for AI.”

The “CNET Money Staff” has generated more than 70 AI-generated financial articles to date, with such titles such as “Should You Break an Early CD for a Better Rate?”  

Futurism points out the byline “staff” is misleading because human editor involvement is minimal and, “It’s only when you click on ‘CNET Money Staff,’ that the actual ‘authorship’ is revealed via a disclosure.”

Although CNET was unavailable to comment, Futurism reported a marketer’s tweet suggested some of the articles are highly trafficked despite Google’s warnings last year discouraging AI-made content.

AI-assisted content is being incorporated into content production with some online ‘low tech’ publishers even taking a human-produced article and replacing words to mask plagiarism. 

Meanwhile, the wire service The Associated Press has touted using AI since 2015, and uses it to generate earnings reports and sports recaps; however, the AP’s automated content is more basic and based on fill-in-the-blanks than CNET’s publications. Futurism speculates that CNET is deploying OpenAI’s GPT-3.

CNET rebranded in April 2022, unveiling a “new identity and site design, among other design evolutions and content features that accelerate the brand in its continued expansion beyond tech.”