NewsGuard Launches Tracking Center for AI-Generated News
The tracker features 150 ‘Unreliable AI-Generated News’ websites as well as NewsGuard reports, insights, and debunks about false narratives and other misinformation relating to artificial intelligence; number of such sites has more than tripled in past month.
(June 8, 2023 — New York City) As part of its efforts to guard readers, brands, and democracies against unreliable news and information, NewsGuard has launched an ”Unreliable AI-Generated News Tracking Center,” cataloging the ways that generative AI has been deployed to turbocharge misinformation operations and low-quality content farms.
The tracking center, which is publicly available here, highlights NewsGuard’s reports, insights, and debunks related to artificial intelligence, including reports that identified Russian and Chinese state-media citing AI-generated text as authority to advance false claims. For example, China Daily cited ChatGPT for the falsehood that the U.S. operates a bioweapons lab in Kazakhstan to infect camels with a virus they would take with them when they migrate to China. The AI-generated website CelebritiesDeaths.com claimed that President Biden died in office.
The tracking center also updates the number of “Unreliable AI-Generated News” websites (UAINs) that NewsGuard analysts have identified. These are low-quality news sites that are mostly or entirely produced by artificial intelligence and that operate with little to no human oversight. So far, NewsGuard has identified 150 UAINs, and its analysts will continue to update the tracking center as new sites and false narratives generated by artificial intelligence emerge. In May, when NewsGuard did its first count, the number was 49.
“One of the reasons we launched NewsGuard five years ago was because of the cheap and easy nature of content farms,” said NewsGuard co-CEO Steven Brill. “Today’s AI-generated ‘news’ websites are akin to the misinformation-spreading Macedonian content farms from a few years ago, with the distinction that these new sites cost even less to produce and can become even more prolific with the enhancements of artificial intelligence.”
“Most of these sites were created with the business model of generating revenue from programmatic advertising, which seems to be working. Brands don’t intend to place ads on these brand-unsafe sites, but the opaque system that operates programmatic advertising means these ads appear through ad-tech firms such as Google,” said NewsGuard co-CEO Gordon Crovitz. “No marketer intends to advertise on these sites, but ads will appear on these brand-unsafe sites unless brands access exclusion lists that include this newest example of misinformation.”
150 UAINs — and Counting
As noted above, NewsGuard has now identified 150 UAINs in 12 languages: Arabic, Chinese, Czech, Dutch, English, French, Indonesian, Korean, Portuguese, Tagalog, Thai, and Turkish. This is a more than tripling from the 49 such sites in seven languages NewsGuard documented at the beginning of May 2023, showing that the number of AI-generated news websites with little to no human oversight is growing quickly.
These websites typically have generic names, such as Top News Press and World Today News. They often publish a steady stream of articles about a range of subjects, including technology, entertainment, and travel. This obscures that the sites operate with little to no human oversight and publish articles written largely or entirely by bots rather than presenting traditionally created and edited journalism with human oversight.
The sites commonly publish articles featuring bland, repetitive language characteristic of generative AI models. The articles sometimes included false claims, such as fabricated events or hoax health treatments, NewsGuard has found.
In many cases, the revenue model for these websites is programmatic advertising through which the ad-tech industry delivers ads without regard to the nature or quality of the website. As a result, top brands are unintentionally supporting these sites. Unless brands take steps to exclude untrustworthy sites, their ads will continue to appear on these types of sites, creating an economic incentive for their creation at scale.
It is expected that generative AI will allow more players to tap into or even grow the estimated $2.6 billion of advertising revenue per year that NewsGuard and Comscore found to be unintentionally directed toward misinformation news sites.
Researchers, platforms, advertisers, government agencies, or other institutions interested in accessing the full list of domains generated by artificial intelligence and operating with little to no human oversight can contact us here: Request domain list.
Launched in March 2018 by media entrepreneur and award-winning journalist Steven Brill and former Wall Street Journal publisher Gordon Crovitz, NewsGuard provides credibility ratings and detailed “Nutrition Labels” for thousands of news and information websites. NewsGuard rates all the news and information websites that account for 95% of online engagement across the U.S., U.K., Canada, Germany, France, Austria, Italy, and now in Australia and New Zealand. NewsGuard products include NewsGuard ratings, BrandGuard, which helps marketers concerned about their brand safety, and the Misinformation Fingerprints catalog of top false narratives online.
In February 2023, the company launched NewsGuard for AI, which provides the leading tools to train generative AI models to avoid spreading misinformation. Generative AI models such as Microsoft Bing Chat use the Misinformation Fingerprints to recognize and avoid spreading the top false narratives online and use the NewsGuard ratings to differentiate between generally reliable sources of news and information and untrustworthy sources so that the machines can be trained to treat these sources differently.
In 2022, BrandGuard began to include ratings of television news and information programs and networks using criteria similar to those used to score websites but adapted for the video medium. NewsGuard’s TV ratings are the first to go beyond its initial ratings of websites.
In May 2023, NewsGuard announced that it is also rating news and information podcasts, working with three of the largest audio platforms, which will help advertisers gain confidence in supporting highly rated podcasts. Ratings for CTV and OTT news programming and news and information podcasts are now available for licensing.
NewsGuard’s ratings are conducted by trained journalists using apolitical criteria of journalistic practice.
NewsGuard’s ratings and Nutrition Labels are licensed by browsers, news aggregators, education companies, and social media and search platforms to make NewsGuard’s information about news websites available to their users. Consumers can also access NewsGuard’s website ratings by purchasing a subscription to NewsGuard, which costs AU$6.95/month, NZ$6.95/month, US$4.95/month, €4.95/month or £4.95/month, and includes access to NewsGuard’s browser extension for Chrome, Safari, and Firefox and its mobile app for iOS and Android. The extension is available for free on Microsoft’s Edge browser through a license agreement with Microsoft. Hundreds of public libraries globally receive free access to use NewsGuard’s browser extension on their public-access computers to give their patrons more context for the news they encounter online. For more information, including to download the browser extension and review NewsGuard’s ratings process, visit newsguardtech.com.