Sports Illustrated Accused of Posting AI-Generated Content Credited to Fake Authors

The publisher says the content in question was licensed from a third party

Sports Illustrated
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Sports Illustrated has been posting AI-generated content by what appear to be fake profiles without disclosing their nature, according to a new report by the science and technology site Futurism.

When Futurism contacted Sports Illustrated publisher The Arena Group, the AI-generated authors disappeared from the website, Futurism wrote. In a statement, The Arena Group said the articles were licensed content from a third party company called AdVon Commerce, and said they were assured the authors were humans.

“The articles in question were product reviews and were licensed content from an external, third-party company, AdVon Commerce. 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 said it has ended the partnership and continues to review the articles in question.

An anonymous source told Futurism that the content in question is “absolutely AI-generated.” 

Futurism also found that Sports Illustrated regularly replaced AI-generated author profiles. Whenever an author was switched out, “the posts they supposedly penned would be reattributed to the new persona, with no editor’s note explaining the change in byline,” Futurism wrote. 

None of the articles credited to these AI-generated authors contained any disclosure about the use of AI whatsoever, however, according to Futurism, the articles did “eventually gain 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.’”

In response to the report, the Sports Illustrated Union issued a statement blasting the organization for fabricating content and author profiles.

“If true, these practices violate everything we believe in about journalism,” wrote the SI Union. “We deplore being associated with something so disrespectful to our readers.”

The union demanded “answers and transparency from Arena Group management about what exactly has been published under the SI name.”

The statement was signed by “The Humans of the SI Union.” 

The report found similar activity within The Arena Group’s media portfolio, which includes the financial publication TheStreet. 

When the CEO of The Arena Group Ross Levinsohn first announced the company would dip its toe into AI-generated content, he guaranteed that the quality of the content published would be top-tier in an interview with The Wall Street Journal

This comes as AI-generated content has become a controversial subject matter in the media world. G/O Media, which has invested heavily in AI content, has seen massive pushback from staff. 

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