Sports Illustrated has removed several articles from its website following a story from Futurism that revealed that the magazine was publishing content under fabricated bylines with fictional profiles and AI-generated headshots as profile images.
In their report, Futurism found that some of the articles on the Sports Illustrated website were written by authors like this guy, Drew Ortiz, who had an author bio that was accompanied by (what were so obviously) AI-generated profile photos that Futurism found for sale in an online marketplace.
The Arena Group, which has licensed and operated the magazine since 2019, denied any liability and instead said that the articles in question were licensed content, in the form of product reviews, from an external third-party company, AdVon Commerce.
“AdVon has assured us that all of the articles in question were written and edited by humans,” a spokesperson for The Arena Group wrote in a statement. “According to AdVon, their writers, editors, and researchers create and curate content and follow a policy that involves using both counter-plagiarism and counter-AI software on all content. However, we have learned that AdVon had writers use a pen or pseudo name in certain articles to protect author privacy – actions we strongly condemn – and we are removing the content while our internal investigation continues and have since ended the partnership.”
A review of one of the archived now-deleted articles does show that it comes with a disclaimer, written in fine print below the title, saying “This content is created by a 3rd party. The Sports Illustrated editorial staff are not involved in the creation of this content.”
But, Futurism points out that The Arena Group still did not do its due diligence.
“The Arena Group’s investigation pretty much just involved asking AdVon whether the content was AI-generated, and taking them at their word when they said it wasn’t. Our sources familiar with the creation of the content disagree,” they wrote.
The union representing staff writers for the magazine, Sports Illustrated Union, demanded answers from The Arena Group through a statement issued on Monday, and deplored “being associated with something so disrespectful to our readers.”
“We want to be very clear: What is described in this Futurism story does not represent the hardworking journalists who make up the Sl Union. For nearly 70 years, Sl staff members have held themselves to the highest possible ethical standards. As members of the SI Union, we are proud to be part of that legacy and work every day to protect it. We expect management to do the same.”
Information for this story was found via Futurism, CNN, and the sources and companies mentioned. The author has no securities or affiliations related to the organizations discussed. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security. The author holds no licenses.