Google Search ranks AI spam above original reporting in news search results

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For example, a search for “competitive visions Google Open AI” brought up a TechCrunch article at the top of Google News. Below that were articles from The Atlantic and Bloomberg comparing rival companies' approaches to AI development. But the fourth article that appeared in that search, tucked just below these more reputable websites, was another Syrus #Blog article that heavily copied the #1 TechCrunch article.

As 404 Media reported in January, earlier this year, Google News search results showed AI-powered articles multiple times for basic queries. Two months later, Google announced major algorithm changes and new spam policies in an attempt to improve search results. And by the end of April, Google revealed that it had completed a major tweak to remove unhelpful results from its search engine ranking system. “As of April 19, we have completed the rollout of these changes. You will see a 45% reduction in low-quality, unoriginal content appearing in search results, versus the 40% improvement we expected across this effort,” Elizabeth Tucker, director of product management at Google, wrote in a blog post.

Despite these changes, spam content created with the help of AI remains a pervasive problem for Google News.

“This is a very prevalent issue with Google right now, and it's hard to give specific answers as to why it's happening,” said Lily Ray, senior director of search engine optimization at marketing firm Amsive. “We've had clients say, 'Google rehashed our article with an AI. It looks exactly like what we wrote in the original content, but it's like a nonsensical AI-rewritten version.'”

At first glance, it was clear that some of the images on Cyrus' blog were generated by AI based on the illustrations' droopy eyes and other deformed physical features — a clear sign of AI attempting to represent the human body.

So, was the text of our article rewritten using AI? We reached out to the blog's creators to find out more about how it was created, and received confirmation by email that an Italian marketing agency created the blog. They claim that they used AI tools as part of the writing process. “Regarding your concerns about plagiarism, we can assure you that our content creation process uses AI tools that analyze and synthesize information from various sources, always respecting intellectual property,” wrote someone under the name Daniele Syrus in an email.

They point out that a single hyperlink at the bottom of the plagiarized article is sufficient attribution. While better than nothing, a link that doesn't even name the publication is not a sufficient defense against plagiarism. The person also claims that the purpose of the website is not to get clicks from Google's search engine, but to test AI algorithms in multiple languages.

Asked for response by email, Google declined to comment on Syrus. “While we don't comment on specific websites, our updated spam policies prohibit the creation of large amounts of low-value, unoriginal content in an attempt to rank highly on Google,” said Google spokesperson Megan Farnsworth. “We take action against sites globally that don't follow our policies.” (Farnsworth is a former WIRED employee.)

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