26 September 2023

Analysis: NewsGPT publishes an array of AI-generated falsehood

Annie Lab analyzed dozens of NewsGPT articles and images and found that they contain factual errors, misleading images, and possible plagiarism.

What is NewsGPT?

Launched on March 1, NewsGPT is claimed to be “the world’s first AI-generated news channel.”

Its CEO Alan Levy called it a “game-changer” for the world of news as it could provide the audience with facts that are “without any hidden agendas or biases.”

However, the background of the “news website” is very unclear. While its terms and conditions section links the site to Maximum Output Trading 103 CC, a company based in South Africa, we found no further information online regarding MOT.

Also, little detail is given on how the platform works with artificial intelligence. NewsGPT’s press release only used some generic terms like “machine learning algorithms” and “natural language processing technology” without specifying which AI models are being used by the service.

Annie Lab requested an interview with Levy, but we have not heard from the company as of this writing.

Inaccurate content

We sampled dozens of articles and images produced by NewsGPT and found some of its content questionable.

The news website itself acknowledges this in its terms and conditions, saying that the service does not review or verify content independently.

It also says it does not guarantee accuracy despite Levy championing NewsGPT’s endeavor for “accuracy and factualness.”

A number of NewsGPT’s Terms and Conditions contradict with its CEO’s message that the news website is able to provide readers with facts and truth.

Wrong economic data used misleadingly

In May, News GPT posted an average of five stories a day on the topics of international, business and sports news generated by “AI Bot V27”.

We analyzed the stories by AI Bot V27 and found they failed to show basic statistical figures accurately.

For instance, the May 7 article titled “China’s economy slows in Q1” claimed, “China’s economy grew at its slowest pace in a year in the first quarter of 2023” and reported that the economy expanded by 4.8% in the first quarter, down from 4.9% in the fourth quarter of 2022.

It is unclear which specific economic indicator those numbers represented and how the comparison was made.

But the term “economy” often refers to the national gross domestic product in news reports.

We looked for China’s GDP growth in the first quarter of 2023 and found a Xinhua news report on April 18 that put it at 4.5% year-on-year, citing the National Bureau of Statistics.

This was better than the 2.9% growth for the previous quarter and remains the highest growth since the 4.8% increase in the first quarter of 2022.

The figures do not match the ones reported by NewsGPT.

Meanwhile, we found that the “4.8%” figure related to China’s economic performance over the same period could be the foreign trade volume growth, but it is not a general or overall indicator of China’s economic performance as a whole.

Close similarities to CNN reports

NewsGPT claims its algorithms analyze data from “a wide range of sources, including social media, news websites, and government agencies.”

However, Annie Lab found that their reports mainly sourced their content from international news organizations such as CNN and Reuters, but there is no attribution of sources.

For example, we compared the following two articles:

Similarities between the two reports:

  1. Temperature records and locations: Both mentioned five Southeast Asian cities in the exact same order and with identical weather figures: Tuong Duong (Vietnam), Luang Prabang (Laos), Vientiane (Loas), Bangkok (Thailand), Tak (Thailand).
  2. Identical quote from Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha concerning the extremely hot weather
  3. Identical text “April and May are usually the hottest seasons in Southeast Asia”
  4. The same “2022 study” predicting the frequency of “dangerous heat waves” in this century was quoted by both. While CNN mentions the source, NewsGPT did not name the title of the study, the authors, or the university the researchers belong to.
  5. NewsGPT’s sentence has no attribution, but it is a shorter version of the quote in CNN’s report from Lucas Vargas Zeppetello, the lead author of the 2022 Harvard study.

We compared two more stories that demonstrate how NewsGPT’s stories are written in a manner that closely resembles CNN’s:

News outlets’ exclusive content with no attribution

On June 6, NewsGPT published a news article that said Elon Musk’s brain implant startup Neuralink was worth around $5 billion based on private stock trades without mentioning the source of information.

This story was originally an exclusive piece from Reuters that quoted people with knowledge of the matter and mentioned an email with the relevant information it received.

NewsGPT’s article on May 8 featured former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and his thoughts on current affairs, which reads as though it were a result of an interview with Kissinger, although NewsGPT publicly says it does not do original reporting.

There was no information about the source in the article; however, we found that CBS News had an on-camera interview with Kissinger ahead of his 100th birthday on May 7. His televised interview was also made into an online article.

The CBS interview and NewsGPT’s article are strikingly similar. They both included, for example, hypothetical questions asked by CBS journalist Ted Koppel, on Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Inaccurate AI-rendered images

The content on NewsGPT is all generated by AI, including its news images. We found that those AI-generated images are also prone to inaccuracy and falsehoods.

For example, the following image came from a NewsGPT article about a Chinese military base. The article said CNN exclusively published the satellite images on May 1, which were sourced from the U.S. satellite imaging company BlackSky.

But the actual images that CNN published looked nothing like the aerial image used by NewsGPT.

NewsGPT article claims this is an image of a northern Chinese military base.
Actual satellite images of a Chinese military base, from 2022, reported by CNN

We found numerous examples of inaccurate AI-rendered images involving criminal suspects as well.

Left: AI-generated image of Daniel Penny in a NewsGPT article; Right: Actual picture of Daniel Penny published in The Guardian. Daniel Penny, a former U.S. Marine, was charged with choking subway passenger Jordan Neely to death in May.
Left: AI-generated image of Oscar Solis in a NewsGPT article; Right: Actual picture of Oscar Solis according to CNN. Oscar Solis was arrested for the killing of Uber Eats driver Randall Cooke in April.
Top: AI-generated image of Bryan Kohberger in a NewsGPT article; Bottom: Screenshot of a video showing Kohberger on CNN. Byran Kohberger was charged with the murder of four students in Idaho.

In all of the above cases, AI has produced images of people who do not look like the actual crime suspects.

There is no disclaimer or warning that the AI-generated “photos” might not be accurate representations of actual people or events in NewsGPT’s articles.

NewsGuard, a company that tracks online misinformation, has recently reported that it has identified 166 “unreliable” AI-generated news websites in 12 languages.