The Irish Times apology exposes the challenges of AI for media outlets

The Irish Times issued an apology for publishing an article that was primarily generated by a chatbot, only to later discover it was a deliberate hoax.

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The Irish Times apologised for publishing the article titled ‘Irish women’s obsession with fake tan is problematic,‘ which turned out to be a deliberate hoax. The editor acknowledged being deceived and expressed genuine remorse. The article, mostly generated by a chatbot, argued that fake tanning had become deeply rooted in Irish society and raised concerns about cultural appropriation. It also claimed that this practice unintentionally fetishises dark skin without recognising the challenges faced by those naturally possessing it. 

The article was taken down shortly after publication due to reader complaints about its authenticity, although it garnered significant attention and triggered a public debate. A saved edition of the article remains available via a hyperlink posted on the purported writer’s Twitter profile. The account also criticised The Irish Times for publishing divisive content to generate clicks. The individual responsible for the hoax, who utilized GPT-4 (similar to ChatGPT) for about 80% of the article’s content, revealed they intended to critique identity politics. 

The Irish Times acknowledged that this episode exposed the challenges created by generative AI for news organizations and stated their commitment to learning and adapting accordingly. In a separate event, the German tabloid Die Aktuelle sparked outrage by deliberately publishing a fake AI-generated interview featuring Formula 1 champion Michael Schumacher, leading to the editor’s dismissal.