The parent company of Sports Illustrated is denying accusations that the popular magazine had published articles attributed to fake author profiles using fabricated bios and AI-generated photos after a report accused the outlet of doing so, including allegations that some of the content was also AI-generated.
A report from Futurism published Monday featured several screenshots from the Sports Illustrated website that appeared to show the fabricated author profiles with profile pictures that also appeared to link back to a website that sells AI-generated headshots.
"There's a lot," one source told the outlet of the fake authors. "I was like, what are they? This is ridiculous. This person does not exist."
Another source alleged that the content itself was, at least partially, generated using AI technology.
"The content is absolutely AI-generated," the source told Futurism, "no matter how much they say that it's not."
Sports Illustrated Union later published a statement saying it was "horrified" by the report and demanded transparency from The Arena Group, Sports Illustrated's parent company.
A Sports Illustrated magazine is seen on a book store shelf on January 23, 2015 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
"We, the workers of the SI Union, are horrified by a story on the site Futurism, reporting that Sports Illustrated's parent company, The Arena Group, has published Al-generated content under SI's brand with fabricated bylines and writer profiles. If true, these practices violate everything we believe in about journalism. We deplore 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 SI Union," the statement continued. "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."
But in a response to a request for comment, a spokesperson for The Arena Group told Fox News Digital that the accusation that the outlet published AI-generated content was "not accurate" and that a third party was to blame for the fabricated author pages.
"The articles in question were product reviews and were licensed content from an external, third-party company, AdVon Commerce. A number of AdVon’s e-commerce articles ran on certain Arena websites. We continually monitor our partners and were in the midst of a review when these allegations were raised."
The statement continued: "AdVon has assured us that all of the articles in question were written and edited by humans. 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 don’t condone – and we are removing the content while our internal investigation continues and have since ended the partnership."
According to a report from The Wall Street Journal published in February, The Arena Group announced the use of AI in some of its content earlier this year. The technology allowed the creation of new content based on information collected from already archived stories and, according to a disclosure, was reviewed by an editorial team.
"It’s not going to replace the art of creating content," Ross Levinsohn, Arena Group’s chairman and chief executive, reportedly said at the time. "It’s giving the content creators, whether they’re writers or social creators, real efficiency and real access to the archives we have."
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