Business & Markets

AI fake news websites rise to 713 in February 2024 – Report

AI fake news websites rise to 713 in February 2024 – Report

The platform providing transparent tools to counter misinformation, NewsGuard, has revealed that the number of websites using AI-generated content to spread fake news has increased to 713 as of February 22, 2024.  

The company in its ‘Tracking AI-enabled Misinformation’ report said most of the websites have little to no human oversight and publish only AI-generated news.  

The publications are found in 15 languages as diverse as Arabic, Chinese, Czech, Dutch, English, French, German, Indonesian, Italian, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish, Tagalog, Thai, and Turkish. 

A previous report by NewsGuard noted a rise in AI-generated sites making false or unverified claims from just under 50 in May to around 600 in December 2023, a more than tenfold increase across just over half a year. 

AI deriving misinformation 

While noting that the rollout of generative artificial intelligence tools has been a boon to content farms and misinformation purveyors alike, NewsGuard in the report said: 

  • “To date, NewsGuard’s team has identified 713 Unreliable AI-generated news and information websites, labeled “UAINS,” spanning 15 languages: Arabic, Chinese, Czech, Dutch, English, French, German, Indonesian, Italian, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish, Tagalog, Thai, and Turkish. 
  • “These websites typically have generic names, such as iBusiness Day, Ireland Top News, and Daily Time Update, which to a consumer appear to be established news sites.  
  • This obscures that the sites operate with little to no human oversight and publish articles written largely or entirely by bots — rather than presenting traditionally created and edited journalism, with human oversight.  
  • “The sites have churned out dozens and in some cases hundreds of generic articles, about a range of subjects including politics, technology, entertainment, and travel. The articles have sometimes included false claims, including about political leaders (see example below relating to the Israeli Prime Minister).  
  • “Other false claims relate to celebrity death hoaxes, fabricated events, and articles presenting old events as if they just occurred.”  

Ad revenue as a motive 

The report indicated that, in many cases, the revenue model for the websites is programmatic advertising under which the ad-tech industry delivers ads without regard to the nature or quality of the website. It added that top brands are unintentionally supporting these sites as a result.  

NewsGuard warned that unless brands take steps to exclude untrustworthy sites, their ads would continue to appear on these types of sites, creating an economic incentive for their creation at scale.  

In addition to the sites included in the Tracker, NewsGuard said it also identified a Chinese-government run website using AI-generated text as authority for the false claim that the U.S. operates a bioweapons lab in Kazakhstan infecting camels to endanger people in China. 

AI misinformation as a risk to global economies 

Earlier this year, the World Economic Forum (WEF) in its Global Risks Report 2024 highlighted AI-generated misinformation as one of the biggest risks countries would face this year.  

The report, which details the findings of the Global Risks Perception Survey (GRPS), revealed that the advancement in AI technology now makes it easy for people to create and spread misinformation. 

According to the report, 53% of the respondents saw AI misinformation as the biggest global risk in 2024, bringing it to number 2 out of the top 10 risks for this year, after extreme weather, which topped the risks table.   

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