Machine-Made Media: Monitoring the Mobilization of Machine-Generated Articles on Misinformation and Mainstream News Websites

Published:

Recommended citation: Hans W. A. Hanley and Zakir Durumeric. "Machine-Made Media: Monitoring the Mobilization of Machine-Generated Articles on Misinformation and Mainstream News Websites." (2023). https://www.hanshanley.com/files/machine_made.pdf

With the increasing popularity of generative large language models (LLMs) like ChatGPT, an increasing number of news websites have begun utilizing them to generate articles. However, not only can these language models produce factually inaccurate articles on reputable websites but disreputable news sites can utilize these LLMs to mass produce misinformation. To begin to understand this phenomenon, we present one of the first large-scale studies of the prevalence of synthetic articles within online news media. To do this, we train a DeBERTa-based synthetic news detector and classify over 12.91 million articles from 3,074 misinformation and mainstream news websites. We find that between January 1, 2022 and April 1, 2023, the relative number of synthetic news articles increased by 79.4% on mainstream websites while increasing by 342% on misinformation sites. Analyzing the impact of the release of ChatGPT using an interrupted-time-series, we show that while its release resulted in a marked increase in synthetic articles on small sites as well as misinformation news websites, there was not a corresponding increase on large mainstream news websites. Finally, using data from the social media platform Reddit, we find that social media users interacted more with synthetic articles in March 2023 relative to January 2022.