Sports Illustrated is denying a report that it published stories generated by artificial intelligence software under bylines attributed to fake authors.
A Monday report by Futurism claims Sports Illustrated ran stories that were attributed to writers whose identities could not be verified through other sources and, on further investigation, found that photos included in profiles of those authors were available for sale on a website featuring AI-generated images.
Futurism reported that it could find no social media presence or evidence of past publishing for a writer credited with writing for Sports Illustrated named “Drew Ortiz” even though a profile page under that name included a photo and narrative about the writer’s personal interests.
“And even more strangely, his profile photo on Sports Illustrated is for sale on a website that sells AI-generated headshots, where he’s described as ‘neutral white young-adult male with short brown hair and blue eyes,’” the Futurism report reads.
Futurism also reported that a source who is involved with publishing the content said that there were other AI-generated authors with bylined stories that Sports Illustrated had published.
And, another anonymous source cited by Futurism said in addition to the AI-generated author head shots “at least some of the articles themselves ... were churned out using AI as well.”
In a posting on X, formerly known as Twitter, Sports Illustrated said it had launched its own investigation and determined that Futurism’s claim that it had published AI-generated articles “is not accurate.”
Sports Illustrated went on to say that the articles cited in the Futurism report “were product reviews and were licensed content from an external, third-party company, AdVon Commerce” and that Advon had “assured us that all of the articles in question were written and edited by humans.”
But, Sports Illustrated’s social media posting also noted that the magazine, which is published by The Arena Group, discovered that AdVon “had writers use a pen or pseudo name in certain articles to protect author privacy — actions we strongly condemn — and we are removing the content while our internal investigation continues and have since ended the partnership.”
In a response to Sports Illustrated refutation of the claims in its report, Futurism noted that the magazine’s statement “never addresses the core allegation of our story: that Sports Illustrated published content from nonexistent writers with AI-generated headshots.”
“The implication seems to be that AdVon invented fake writers, assigned them fake biographies and AI-generated headshots, and then stopped right there, only publishing content written by old-fashioned humans,” the Futurism report reads. “Maybe that’s true, but we doubt it.”