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Google Search Ranks AI Spam Above Original Reporting in News Results

Google Search Ranks AI Spam Above Original Reporting in News Results

For example, I searched “competing visions google openai” and saw a TechCrunch piece at the top of Google News. Below it were articles from The Atlantic and Bloomberg comparing the rival companies’ approaches to AI development. But then, the fourth article to appear for that search, nestled right below these more reputable websites, was another Syrus #Blog piece that heavily copied the TechCrunch article in the first position.

As reported by 404 Media in January, AI-powered articles appeared multiple times for basic queries at the beginning of the year in Google News results. Two months later, Google announced significant changes to its algorithm and new spam policies, as an attempt to improve the search results. And by the end of April, Google shared that the major adjustments to remove unhelpful results from its search engine ranking system were finished. “As of April 19, we’ve completed the rollout of these changes. You’ll now see 45 percent less low-quality, unoriginal content in search results versus the 40 percent improvement we expected across this work,” wrote Elizabeth Tucker, a director of product management at Google, in a blog post.

Despite the changes, spammy content created with the help of AI remains an ongoing, prevalent issue for Google News.

“This is a really rampant problem on Google right now, and it’s hard to answer specifically why it’s happening,” says Lily Ray, senior director of search engine optimization at the marketing agency Amsive. “We’ve had some clients say, ‘Hey, they took our article and rehashed it with AI. It looks exactly like what we wrote in our original content but just kind of like a mumbo-jumbo, AI-rewritten version of it.’”

At first glance, it was clear to me that some of the images for Syrus’ blogs were AI generated based on the illustrations’ droopy eyes and other deformed physical features—telltale signs of AI trying to represent the human body.

Now, was the text of our article rewritten using AI? I reached out to the person behind the blog to learn more about how they made it and received confirmation via email that an Italian marketing agency created the blog. They claim to have used an AI tool as part of the writing process. “Regarding your concerns about plagiarism, we can assure you that our content creation process involves AI tools that analyze and synthesize information from various sources while always respecting intellectual property,” writes someone using the name Daniele Syrus over email.

They point to the single hyperlink at the bottom of the lifted article as sufficient attribution. While better than nothing, a link which doesn’t even mention the publication by name is not an adequate defense against plagiarism. The person also claims that the website’s goal is not to receive clicks from Google’s search engine but to test out AI algorithms in multiple languages.

When approached over email for a response, Google declined to comment about Syrus. “We don’t comment on specific websites, but our updated spam policies prohibit creating low-value, unoriginal content at scale for the purposes of ranking well on Google,” says Meghann Farnsworth, a spokesperson for Google. “We take action on sites globally that don’t follow our policies.” (Farnsworth is a former WIRED employee.)

Google Search Ranks AI Spam Above Original Reporting in News Results

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