Correction, January 18, 2024, 4:55 PM ET: This story originally claimed that AI-generated content was being promoted in Google News. We did not note that to find such stories required heavily manipulating the search results in Google News, so much so that it didn't surface an original, more legitimate source. As 404 Media itself writes, "Both of these rip-off articles appear in Google News search results. The first appears when searching for “Star Wars theory” and setting the results to the past 24 hours. The second appears when searching for the subject of the article with a similar 24 hour setting." Those search parameters are essentially set to that the original stories don't appear.
A Google spokesperson provided us with the following statement regarding this issue: Claiming that these sites were featured prominently in Google News is not accurate - the sites in question only appeared for artificially narrow queries, including queries that explicitly filtered out the date of an original article. We take the quality of our results extremely seriously and have clear policies against content created for the primary purpose of ranking well on News and we remove sites that violate it.
We apologize for overstating the issue and are including a slightly modified version original story that has been corrected for accuracy, and we've updated the headline to make it more accurate.
AI-generated content can be found everywhere online, including your Google News feed. A report from 404 Media revealed that Google News can potentially websites filled with AI-generated articles ripped from other outlets. Google News used to be a place you’d find the latest and most accurate information on most topics. But just because something makes it to Google News doesn’t necessarily mean the information is reliable.
404 Media cited several examples of AI-written articles getting past Google. One example involved a “news site” called Worldtimetodays, that recently published an article about Star Wars. An analysis of the article showed it was highly similar to one published earlier by Distractify. The Worldtimetodays article included the same author photo along with some odd phrasings, as you’d expect with AI. The ripped article read “Let’s be honest, war of stars fans,” instead of Star Wars fans. The site also had articles that were barely rewritten from Heavy, without bothering to replace Heavy’s watermarked images.
As AI advances and becomes even more accessible, we will likely continue to see mass output of plagiarized articles and unreliable information, some of which may hit Google News. The company told 404 Media that while it tries to filter spam on Google News, it isn’t overly concerned whether an article is written by humans or AI. A Google representative told the publication said it’s more about the quality of the content.
“Our focus when ranking content is on the quality of the content, rather than how it was produced. Automatically-generated content produced primarily for ranking purposes is considered spam, and we take action as appropriate under our policies,” the statement read.
Google went on to reiterate that websites are considered for Google News automatically, and new websites may not be immediately detected by the system. The company added that its goal is to reward “original content that demonstrates things such as expertise and trustworthiness,” but it looks like it’s missing the mark by letting these AI-generated articles through in the first place.