In recent events, the NewsGuild of New York has taken collective action against Reviewed, the commerce website owned by USA Today, amid allegations that the platform employed artificial intelligence (AI) to generate fraudulent product reviews. The controversy has sparked a heated debate within the industry, as the union seeks answers from management, and Reviewed responds with its side of the story.
Allegations of AI-generated fake reviews
The NewsGuild of New York, the representative body for Reviewed’s editorial staff, has voiced concerns that AI was employed to create deceptive product reviews on the website. Their suspicions were rooted in discovering content that failed to meet the site’s editorial standards. Furthermore, union members noted that the purported authors of this content were not part of the site’s staff, raising doubts about their existence.
Reviewed swiftly responded to the allegations, denying the use of AI in generating content. A spokesperson for the platform clarified that the contentious content was produced by third-party freelancers engaged through a marketing agency partner. Acknowledging the omission of accurate affiliate disclaimers, Reviewed admitted that the content did not meet their editorial standards. Consequently, they took corrective measures by updating the content.
Involvement of third-party marketing firm
The controversy deepened when it was revealed that Gannett, the parent company of USA Today, had collaborated with a “third-party marketing firm” to create the contentious content. This revelation added a layer of complexity to the situation, with questions arising about the nature of this collaboration and its implications for Reviewed’s editorial independence.
The NewsGuild of New York framed this incident as part of a broader trend wherein companies like Gannett aim to leverage AI to replace human workers and maximize profits. They asserted that this approach poses a threat to both workers’ rights and journalistic integrity. With its history of organized actions, the union declared its resolve to resist such attacks on the working class.
Negotiations and austerity measures
It’s important to note that these allegations came to light at a critical juncture in the union’s negotiations with Gannett. The NewsGuild of New York is seeking a new contract and addressing what they perceive as unilateral austerity measures imposed by Gannett’s leadership. These measures have repercussions for the workers at Reviewed and similar shops across the country.
As the controversy surrounding USA Today’s Reviewed unfolds, it remains a matter of intense scrutiny within the media industry. The allegations of AI-generated fake reviews have placed the platform and its parent company, Gannett, in the spotlight. Reviewed’s response, denying the use of AI while acknowledging the failure to meet editorial standards, has raised questions about their oversight of third-party content creators.
At the heart of this issue is the NewsGuild of New York’s fight for workers’ rights and journalistic integrity. Their determination to confront the challenges posed by AI-driven content creation reflects broader concerns about automation’s impact on employment and journalism’s quality.
As negotiations between the union and Gannett continue, the industry watches closely, recognizing that the outcome of this dispute could set precedents for how media companies navigate the evolving landscape of technology and journalism. The implications of this controversy reach beyond Reviewed’s digital pages, serving as a reminder of the ongoing struggle between technological advancement and ethical responsibility in the media world.