When several articles appeared last week on Reviewed, a website owned by USA Today that recommends products, something seemed off. No one at Reviewed recognized the signatures on the pieces.
Reviewed writers and editors began researching the names, but had difficulty finding proof — such as a LinkedIn account — of these people’s existence. The quality of the items was also questionable. That’s when they started to wonder: was it artificial intelligence that wrote these articles?
Gannett, the parent company of USA Today, says no AI was used. About 40 people at Review say yes.
Some of the articles in question were analyzed using artificial intelligence detection programs, which repeatedly revealed that some of them were not written by humans, a representative of the union that represents the Reviewed staff members in an email.
One such program, Winston AI, found that three articles had a “zero percent human score,” indicating that they were most likely not written by a human, according to The union. Another had a human score of 1 percent.
One of the articles with a zero percent human score was a recommendation for the best portable trampoline.
“Searching for the best portable trampoline can be intimidating,” said the review says. “Luckily, this buying guide covers all the essential factors to consider when shopping. Regular use of a trampoline can help improve balance, coordination and agility.
According to Winston AI, “it is highly likely that an AI text generation tool was used.”
This is not the case, according to Gannett.
Lark-Marie Antón, a company spokesperson, said in a statement Friday that the articles in question were “created by third-party freelancers hired by a partner marketing agency, not AI”
Nonetheless, Ms. Antón acknowledged that the reviews had not been properly labeled as having been written by a third party.
“The pages were deployed without clear affiliate disclaimers and did not meet our editorial standards,” she said, adding that updates had been posted to the articles.
Others were removed after an outcry from several Reviewed workers.
Asked about the articles that Reviewed staff members had analyzed using artificial intelligence detection programs, Ms. Antón said the conclusion that they had not been written by humans was “baseless.”
The editors of Reviewed are demanding the retraction of all articles in question and an apology from the company for using a third party for work it may have done.
“We were told unequivocally that this was not going to happen,” Garrett Steele, search engine optimization editor for Reviewed, said Friday.
The third-party company was AdVon Commerce, according to a union representing Reviewed staff members. The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday afternoon.
As artificial intelligence has become easier to use in recent years, some companies and news agencies have experimented with the technology to create content. This has led some authors to fear that their work will be replaced by artificial intelligence.
The examined Union declared X Thursday that Gannett “will put profit before workers’ rights or journalistic integrity, which is why we are organized to fight this attack on unions and the public trust.”
“If AI increases productivity, we demand a fair share, not threats to our jobs,” the union said. “Workers deserve to benefit from the benefits of new technologies, without the risk of being replaced. »
The NewsGuild of New York, which represents the Reviewed union, said on that the examined union members “will NEVER be replaced by AI”
THE NewsGuild also said on that the articles were a “transparent attempt by Gannett to bust unions by threatening journalists with job loss” after Reviewed union members staged a two-day strike this month to protest a new contract.
Ms. Antón said Gannett’s allegation that unions were anti-union was “patently false.”
She added: “Our leadership is focused on investing in our newsrooms and monetizing our content while continuing to negotiate fairly and in good faith. »