The Irish Times was forced to retract a story it ran criticizing Irish women for wearing fake tans after learning the story was being submitted by someone using AI to write it.
The May 11 editorial, “Irish women’s obsession with fake tans is problematic,” argued that women who use fake tans are making fun of people with naturally dark skin. The author of the article would be Adriana Acosta-Cortez, a 29-year-old Ecuadorian health worker from the Dublin area.
“It has been a breach of trust between the Irish Times and its readers, and we are sincerely sorry,” Ruadhán Mac Cormaic said in a statement, according to a report by The Guardian. “The incident highlighted a loophole in our pre-publication process.”
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“The fake tan represents more than just a harmless cosmetic choice; it raises questions of cultural appropriation and fetishization of the high melanin content found in more pigmented people,” the story reads.
But Ireland’s official paper was later forced to admit it was the victim of “deliberate and coordinated deception” when the author of the piece was found to be using a fake identity and generated 80% of the story using GPT4 Chat .
A Twitter account apparently belonging to Acosta-Cortez was found to be fake, according to the Sunday Independent, which said the person behind the account admitted he sent the story and was just “moving shit”.
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“I created a semi-legitimate Gmail address with no numbers and also repurposed a Twitter account I created during Covid,” said the person behind the account. “I deleted it and followed some Ecuadorian accounts, news and outlets, some Spanish speaking to make it look legit.”
They then reportedly used AI image generator Dall-E2 to create a fake profile picture of a “woke up” reporter by typing in the words “overweight, blue hair, smug expression.”
In the Irish Times’ response, Mac Cormaic stressed the need for the newspaper to improve and lamented the challenges of managing AI.
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“He also highlighted one of the challenges raised by generative AI for news organizations (sic). We, like others, will learn and adapt,” said Mac Cormaic.