The Irish Times was forced to retract a story it ran that criticized Irish women for using fake tans after it learned the story was allegedly submitted by someone using artificial intelligence to write it.
The May 11 op-ed, “Irish women’s obsession with fake tan is problematic,” argued that women who use fake tans mock people with naturally dark skin. The author of the article was said to be Adriana Acosta-Cortez, a 29-year-old Ecuadorian health worker from the Dublin area.
“It was a breach of the trust between the Irish Times and its readers, and we are genuinely sorry,” Ruadhán Mac Cormaic said in a statement, according to a report from The Guardian. “The incident has highlighted a gap in our pre-publication procedures.”
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“Fake tan represents more than just an innocuous cosmetic choice; it raises questions of cultural appropriation and fetishisation of the high melanin content found in more pigmented people,” the story reads.
But Ireland’s paper of record was later forced to admit that it was the victim of “a deliberate and coordinated deception” when it was discovered the author of the piece was using a fake identity and generated 80% of the story using Chat GPT4.
A Twitter account seemingly belonging to Acosta-Cortez was found to be fake, according to the Sunday Independent, which said the person behind the account admitted to submitting the story and was only “stirring the sh–.”
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“I made a semi-legitimate Gmail address with no numbers and I also repurposed a Twitter account that I set up during Covid,” the person behind the account said. “I wiped it and followed some accounts, news and Ecuadorian outlets, some Spanish language to make it look legit.”
They then reportedly used the AI image generator Dall-E2 to create a fake profile picture of a “woke” journalist by typing in the words “overweight, blue hair, smug expression.”
In the Irish Times response, Mac Cormaic highlighted the need for the paper to improve and lamented the challenges of dealing with AI.
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“It has also underlined one of the challenges raised by generative AI for news organisations (sic). We, like others, will learn and adapt,” Mac Cormaic said.