(WTVO) — A major news website is facing public backlash and accusations of using artificial intelligence to write articles after a published obituary called recently-deceased athlete Brandon Hunter “useless.”
MSN, a web portal and news aggregator owned and operated by tech giant Microsoft, published an obituary of former NBA player Brandon Hunter, who died on September 12 at the age of 42.
The article quickly received criticism due to its title: “Brandon Hunter useless at 42.”
Many X/Twitter users suspected the article was not written by a human because of the strange phrasing.
“AI should not be writing obituaries. Pay your damn writers @MSN,” posted X user @EdLockwood87.
“I don’t think this is AI, I think this is a text spinner, which basically runs text blindly through a thesaurus to make plagiarism less obvious,” said another X user.
In addition to the inflammatory headline, the now-deleted article contained many strange and even flat-out incorrect facts about Hunter’s career.
“Throughout his NBA profession, he performed in 67 video games over two seasons and achieved a career-high of 17 factors in a recreation in opposition to the Milwaukee Bucks in 2004,” reads one of the article’s paragraphs.
The article was attributed to Race Track, which claims to be “your premier destination for all major Sports News.”
However, Race Track appears to not have a dedicated, independent website and exclusively posts to MSN, raising doubts about its legitimacy.
Moreover, while many Race Track articles posted to MSN have an author’s byline, the obituary’s author was simply attributed as “Editor.”
One X user posted that the article was “scraped from another site and ran through an old school brute force ‘SEO spinner’,” before providing a link to an eerily similar obituary posted by TalkBasket.net.
“During his NBA career, he played in 67 games over two seasons and achieved a career-high of 17 points in a game against the Milwaukee Bucks in 2004,” reads a similar paragraph on the website.
MSN has faced similar criticism for its content in the past. In 2020, MSN fired their team of journalists responsible for vetting published content, leading to an increase in “sloppy” articles, according to Futurism.