Prominent Tech News Outlet Faces Backlash Over Use of AI-Generated Articles


  • CNET’s AI-generated finance articles caused uproar.
  • Wikipedia downgraded its reliability rating. 
  • CNET denies advertiser influence and pledges editorial integrity.

CNET, a prominent tech news outlet, has come under fire for using generative AI in finance-related articles. The revelation, brought to light by Futurism, sparked widespread controversy due to numerous errors and instances of plagiarism found within the AI-generated content. The fallout has led to significant repercussions, including a downgrade in CNET’s reliability rating on Wikipedia.

In November 2022, CNET began publishing articles under the byline “CNET Money Staff,” masking the fact that these pieces were AI-generated. The substandard quality of these articles, marked by factual inaccuracies and verbatim copying from other sources, raised concerns among readers and industry observers.

CNET’s AI-generated articles response and fallout

Following the public outcry, CNET’s leadership defended their actions, asserting that AI-generated articles were introduced “quietly” rather than “in secret.” However, in the wake of the backlash, CNET halted the use of AI-generated content, at least temporarily. Other publications under the ownership of Red Ventures, CNET’s parent company, also suspended similar initiatives.

The controversy surrounding CNET’s AI-generated articles prompted Wikipedia editors to reassess the publication’s reliability rating. Previously considered a “Generally Reliable” source, CNET’s rating was downgraded to “Generally Unreliable” due to the introduction of AI-generated content. After implementing automated writing technology, this downgrade reflects editorial integrity and accuracy concerns.

Reactions from Wikipedia editors

Wikipedia editors engaged in discussions regarding CNET’s reliability status in January 2023, highlighting the negative impact of AI-generated content on the publication’s credibility. Some editors advocated for downgrading the reliability ratings of all Red Ventures-owned sites, including ZDNet. However, ZDNet maintains its status as a “Generally Reliable” source on Wikipedia.

In response to the Wikipedia demotion, a spokesperson from CNET emphasized the publication’s commitment to unbiased reporting and editorial integrity. They clarified that CNET is not actively utilizing AI to create new content and reiterated their adherence to a public AI policy. Additionally, they refuted allegations of pressure to produce favorable content for advertisers, asserting the independence of CNET’s editorial team within the Red Ventures organization.

The controversy surrounding CNET’s use of AI-generated articles underscores the ongoing debate over the ethical implications of automated content creation in journalism. While CNET has halted its AI initiatives for now, the fallout from this incident continues to reverberate, prompting discussions about editorial standards and reliability in the digital media landscape. As technology continues to evolve, human oversight and editorial integrity remain paramount in ensuring the trustworthiness of news sources.

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James Kinoti

A crypto enthusiast, James finds pleasure in sharing knowledge on fintech, cryptocurrency as well as blockchain and frontier technologies. The latest innovations in the crypto industry, crypto gaming, AI, blockchain technology, and other technologies are his preoccupation. His mission: be on track with transformative applications in various industries.

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