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Newspaper'story' prank by artificial intelligence

 Newspaper'story' prank by artificial intelligence

An esteemed newspaper in Ireland has issued an apology after being deceived by a prankster who submitted a fabricated story generated by artificial intelligence (AI).

In the past week, The Irish Times published an opinion piece authored by a contributor named Adriana Acosta-Cortez, who presented herself as a 29-year-old healthcare professional residing in north Dublin. The article strongly criticized Irish women for their use of fake tan.

In the opinion piece, it was alleged that Irish women engaging in the use of fake tan were guilty of deriding individuals with naturally darker skin and perpetuating "cultural appropriation and the objectification of individuals with higher melanin levels."

The article quickly gained significant traction and became the second most widely read piece on the newspaper's website, sparking a spirited discourse across various Irish media platforms.

Everything seemed to be going smoothly until a Twitter account under the name Adriana Acosta-Cortez disassociated itself from the article, expressing disappointment in the newspaper for publishing divisive content solely to generate online traffic and clicks. The tweet also called into question the newspaper's screening process, stating that a more rigorous approach was needed beyond simply relying on a plausible Gmail address.

The incident caused significant concern and dismay within the esteemed newspaper, which has a long-standing history dating back to 1859. Editor Ruadhán Mac Cormaic released a lengthy mea culpa, acknowledging that the article had been published in good faith. He revealed that there had been extensive discussions between The Irish Times and the purported author, including suggested revisions, personal anecdotes, and references to relevant research. However, it has now come to light that the article, along with the accompanying byline photo, may have been partially or entirely generated using artificial intelligence technology.

"We were deceived by a deliberate and coordinated hoax; the individual we were communicating with turned out to be someone other than who they had claimed to be," Mac Cormaic confessed, acknowledging the newspaper's vulnerability to the orchestrated deception.

The individual behind the Adriana Acosta-Cortez Twitter account revealed the full story to The Sunday Independent, a different Irish newspaper.

The author of the hoax admitted, in their correspondence with The Sunday Independent, to creating a seemingly authentic Gmail address without any numerical identifiers. Additionally, they confessed to repurposing a Twitter account that had been initially established during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The individual behind the hoax further disclosed that they had intentionally erased the account's previous activity and strategically followed a selection of accounts, including news outlets and Ecuadorian sources, as well as Spanish-language content, in an effort to create an appearance of authenticity. Mr. Mac Cormaic expressed deep embarrassment and emphasized the gravity of the situation, acknowledging that it constituted a breach of trust between the newspaper and its readers. He reiterated the extent of the consultations that had taken place with the author, who had provided personal anecdotes and references to research, further amplifying the sense of regret and apology.