Report: Major Media Outlets Partnered With AI Company Are Filling Google With AI-Generated Trash

Chris Menahan
May. 09, 2024

Major media outlets have reportedly partnered with an AI company called AdVon Commerce to publish tens of thousands of fake product reviews and fill up Google Search results with piles of AI-generated trash.

While sites like InformationLiberation are manually blacklisted by Google's "trusted flaggers" for telling the truth, major media outlets which are manually whitelisted by Google for pushing regime propaganda are given top results for any garbage they publish.

Regime media have been taking advantage of this setup for years with low-quality clickbait but now they're taking spamming/SEO manipulation to a whole new level with AI.

From Futurism, "Meet AdVon, the AI-Powered Content Monster Infecting the Media Industry":
A few years back, a writer in a developing country started doing contract work for a company called AdVon Commerce, getting a few pennies per word to write online product reviews.

But the writer — who like other AdVon sources interviewed for this story spoke on condition of anonymity — recalls that the gig's responsibilities soon shifted. Instead of writing, they were now tasked with polishing drafts generated using an AI system the company was developing, internally dubbed MEL.

"They started using AI for content generation," the former AdVon worker told us, "and paid even less than what they were paying before."

The former writer was asked to leave detailed notes on MEL's work — feedback they believe was used to fine-tune the AI which would eventually replace their role entirely.

The situation continued until MEL "got trained enough to write on its own," they said. "Soon after, we were released from our positions as writers."

[...] We first heard of AdVon last year, after staff at Gannett noticed product reviews getting published on the website of USA Today with bylines that didn't seem to correspond to real people. The articles were stilted and formulaic, leading the writers' union to accuse them of being "shoddy AI."

When Gannett blamed the strange articles on AdVon, we started digging. We soon found AdVon had been running a similar operation at the magazine Sports Illustrated, publishing product reviews using bylines of fake writers with fictional biographies and AI-generated profile pictures. The response was explosive: the magazine's union wrote that it was "horrified," while its publisher cut ties with AdVon and subsequently fired its CEO before losing the rights to Sports Illustrated entirely.

[...] What we found should alarm anyone who cares about a trustworthy and ethical media industry. Basically, AdVon engages in what Google calls "site reputation abuse": it strikes deals with publishers in which it provides huge numbers of extremely low-quality product reviews — often for surprisingly prominent publications — intended to pull in traffic from people Googling things like "best ab roller." The idea seems to be that these visitors will be fooled into thinking the recommendations were made by the publication's actual journalists and click one of the articles' affiliate links, kicking back a little money if they make a purchase.

[...] We found the company's phony authors and their work everywhere from celebrity gossip outlets like Hollywood Life and Us Weekly to venerable newspapers like the Los Angeles Times, the latter of which also told us that it had broken off its relationship with AdVon after finding its work unsatisfactory.

And after we sent detailed questions about this story to McClatchy, a large publisher of regional newspapers, it also ended its relationship with AdVon and deleted hundreds of its pieces — bylined by at least 14 fake authors — from more than 20 of its papers, ranging from the Miami Herald to the Sacramento Bee.
Basically everyone these days is complaining about Google Search results being complete garbage because so much of the "content" is incoherent nonsense generated by ChatGPT and the like.

Google could still have fine search results if they switched back to their old, largely impartial "page rank" algorithms and eliminated their "trusted flagger" manual censorship regime but they'd rather the site be unusable trash than display results that are "politically incorrect" (but factually true).

Controlling the narrative is more important than producing a quality product.

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