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Exclusive: NewsGuard Uncovers Network of Italian-Language Unreliable AI Generated Sites

By Sara Badilini, Camillo Barone, Virginia Padovese, and Giulia Pozzi | Published on July 7, 2023

NewsGuard has identified what appears to be a network of unreliable AI-generated (UAIN) sites operating out of Italy. 

NewsGuard defines Unreliable Artificial Intelligence-Generated News (UAIN) websites as sites that operate with little or no human oversight and publish articles written largely or entirely by bots. In the past month, NewsGuard analysts have updated the number of sites on its UAIN site tracker from 49 to 301.

In June, NewsGuard analysts identified 36 Italian-language UAIN sites that each list a mailing address in Bari, Italy. All the site domains were registered in Manacor, in the Balearic Islands, through Soluciones Corporativas IP, a domain management service. The sites all state on their Legal Disclaimer pages that they belong to an unidentified person named “Rosa Rossi.” NewsGuard was unable to determine whether this is a real or fictitious name.

NewsGuard found multiple examples of error messages typical of AI chatbots on all 36 sites, signaling that they likely operate with little to no human oversight. The sites regularly publish low quality content, at least some of which NewsGuard was able to determine was produced by AI — including articles presenting outdated information as recent; incorrect or baseless information about public figures; deceptive headlines; and unproven weight loss remedies.

For example, a June 25 story published on the UAIN site and headlined “The truth about Bianca Berlinguer’s blind husband,” erroneously claimed in the second paragraph that the husband of Italian journalist and TV host Bianca Berlinguer was “Fabio Calvi, a well-known Italian financier.” In fact, Berlinguer’s current husband is not Fabio Calvi, but Italian politician Luigi Manconi, according to news reports. The article included error messages commonly produced by chatbots, indicating that it was likely generated using AI. 

Each site typically attributes all its content — which usually includes news about celebrities, health, fitness and meditation — to a single author, whose profile and picture appear to be inauthentic. For example, on June 28, 2023, published 75 articles all attributed to an author named “Valentina Bianchi Greco.” A reverse image search of the author’s picture revealed that the photo was taken from, a stock photo site.

All the domains of the sites were registered between March 3, 2023, and May 22, 2023. As of July 5, 2023, none of the sites ran programmatic ads, and the sites’ content did not appear to have been shared on social media. It is not clear how these sites are generating revenue at this point, if at all.

NewsGuard sent an email to each site, seeking comment on their approach to using AI to generate content, but all the email addresses provided were invalid.