By McKenzie Sadeghi | Published on Nov. 16, 2023
These findings were first reported in NewsGuard’s proprietary Misinformation Risk Briefing for clients. If you are interested in receiving NewsGuard’s briefing, please contact email@example.com.
An AI-generated news website appears to be the source of a false claim that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s supposed psychiatrist died by suicide — demonstrating how generative artificial intelligence tools are already apparently being weaponized by bad actors to spread misinformation.
The false claim appears to have originated on Nov. 6 on a website called Global Village Space, which presents itself as a Pakistani news site. The article, headlined “Israeli Prime Minister’s psychiatrist commits suicide,” claimed that “Dr. Moshe Yatom, a renowned Israeli psychiatrist celebrated for his work in curing severe mental illnesses, was discovered dead in his Tel Aviv home.” The article also stated that Yatom left behind a “devastating suicide note that implicated” Netanyahu. This claim quickly spread on several platforms in numerous languages, including by thousands of social media users.
In fact, a NewsGuard search did not identify any psychiatrists in Israel by the name of Moshe Yatom, or anyone with a name similar to that who was reported to have recently died. Global Village Space appears to have used AI to rewrite a satire article about Netanyahu, capitalizing on interest in the war.
The Global Village Space article seems to have had as its source a June 8, 2010, satirical article on Legalienate, a site that describes itself as a “News, Commentary and Satire” website. The articles contained significant similarities, and Global Village Space has a history of using AI to generate content from other sources. In August 2023, NewsGuard found that GlobalVillageSpace.com was one of 37 sites also using AI to rewrite content without credit from mainstream news sources, such as The New York Times.
In May 2023, NewsGuard first identified Global Village Space as an AI-generated website. This is an example of a website determined by NewsGuard to be among many Unreliable AI-Generated News Sites (UAINS), which are sites that predominantly publish news generated by AI, with minimal human editorial oversight and without transparently disclosing this practice to their readers. (See NewsGuard’s UAINS tracker here.) As noted on NewsGuard’s AI tracker, UAINS regularly repackage old content as new.
The Global Village Space AI-generated article went into great detail, despite the fact that the claim is entirely fabricated. The AI-written article claimed that the suicide note “painted a grim picture of a man who had tried for nine years to penetrate the enigmatic mind of Netanyahu, only to be defeated by what he called a ‘waterfall of lies.’” Under a subsection titled “Shocking Diary Entries,” the article claimed that the doctor had written that “Netanyahu equated Iran with Nazi Germany and went as far as dubbing Iran’s nuclear energy program a ‘flying gas chamber,’ while suggesting that all Jews were living perpetually in Auschwitz.” The article also referred to an alleged unfinished manuscript of a book by the doctor that the article claimed “sheds light on the extraordinary challenges Yatom faced in attempting to guide his illustrious patient towards a rational understanding of reality.”
Following the publication of the false claims by Global Village Space, Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting’s Channel Two aired a segment titled “Netanyahu’s psychologist committed suicide.” Host Mohammadreza Shahbazi said in Farsi, “Netanyahu’s therapist spent years with this man and then went and killed himself,” according to a NewsGuard translation of the segment. Shahbazi then urged viewers to “Read the rest of it,” directing his audience to the Global Village Space.