06 February 2024

Embattled Philadelphia sheriff removes bogus news stories written by ChatGPT

06 February 2024

The campaign team behind Philadelphia’s embattled sheriff acknowledged on Monday that a series of positive news stories posted to their website was generated by ChatGPT.

Sheriff Rochelle Bilal’s campaign removed more than 30 stories created by a consultant using the artificially intelligent chatbot.

The move came after a Philadelphia Inquirer story on Monday reported that local news outlets could not find the stories in their archives.

Ms Bilal’s campaign said the stories were based on real events.

“Our campaign provided the outside consultant talking points, which were then provided to the AI service,” the campaign said in a statement.

“It is now clear that the artificial intelligence service generated fake news articles to support the initiatives that were part of the AI prompt.”

Ms Bilal’s story list, which the site dubbed her “Record of Accomplishments”, had ended with a disclaimer — which the Inquirer called new — that the information “makes no representations or warranties of any kind” about the accuracy of the information.

The list of news stories, which includes purported publication dates, attributed four news stories to the Inquirer, none of which are in the paper’s archives, spokesperson Evan Benn said.

The others were attributed to three local broadcast stations — WHYY, WCAU and KYW.

Some, including a fired employee-turned-whistleblower of Ms Bilal, Brett Mandelin, fear such misinformation could confuse voters and contribute to ongoing mistrust and threats to democracy.

“I have grave concerns about that,” he said.

“I think we have seen, at the local and national level, not only a disregard for truth and the institutions we have thought of as being the gatekeepers to truth, but I think we have eroded all trust in this area.”

Mr Mandel filed one of several whistleblower suits lodged against the office.

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