Several unknown writers began churning out suspicious articles for the USA Today-owned website Reviewed. Employees of the media outlet suspect USA Today of using AI to create articles because it doesn’t appear that many of the writers even exist.
Reviewed is a website that provides shopping recommendations, and may also earn a commission for products purchased from the site.
Jaime Carrillo – a senior staff writer at Reviewed – noticed that there were articles promoting products that were extremely vague. Carrillo and his coworkers suspected that the articles were created with artificial intelligence.
The USA Today employees also noticed that they had never heard of the writers behind these odd articles. After searches on Google and LinkedIn, there was allegedly no evidence that the authors even existed.
Carrillo said the mysterious reviews started appearing just weeks after staff engaged in a one-day walkout to demand a new contract.
The Washington Post reported, “Reviewed’s employees, who are unionized through the NewsGuild of New York, allege that the articles are a covert attempt by parent company Gannett to undermine workers, at a time when many publishers are experimenting with AI content to cut costs.”
The NewsGuild of New York stated online, “Gannett made another attempt to use AI this week, posting a series of AI-generated reviews on its consumer review site Reviewed. After an outcry from unionized staff, the posts seem to have come down.”
“Not only did Gannett‘s AI posts sound robotic – but their ‘authors’ may not even be real,” the union said on the X social media platform. “They’re not Reviewed editors, don’t have LinkedIn profiles, and Google searches turn up no other written work.”
Gannett – which owns USA Today – told the Washington Post that the articles were not generated by AI. Gannett said the articles were done through a partnership with a marketing firm to generate paid search engine traffic. Gannett conceded that the suspicious articles “did not meet our affiliate standards.” Many of the articles have already been deleted.
“We expect all our vendors to comply with our ethical standards and have been assured by the marketing agency the content was NOT AI-generated,” the spokesperson said.
However, USA Today partnered with AdVon Commerce – which boasts of utilizing artificial intelligence.
AdVon Commerce states on its official LinkedIn: “AI solutions for E Commerce.”
One of the few authors who was identified noted on his LinkedIn about his experience in “polishing AI generative text.”
In August, Gannett had to pause the use of AI-generated articles covering high school sports after the tech made several mistakes.
One error-laded AI article reads: “The Worthington Christian [[WINNING_TEAM_MASCOT]] defeated the Westerville North [[LOSING_TEAM_MASCOT]] 2-1 in an Ohio boys soccer game on Saturday.”
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