POLITICS & ELECTIONS

Philly sheriff’s campaign takes down bogus ‘news’ stories posted to site, generated by AI

Feb 5, 2024, 4:44 PM | Updated: 5:40 pm

FILE - Text from the ChatGPT page of the OpenAI website is shown in this photo, in New York, Feb. 2...

FILE - Text from the ChatGPT page of the OpenAI website is shown in this photo, in New York, Feb. 2, 2023. English Wikipedia raked in more than 84 billion views in 2023. That's according to numbers collected by the Wikimedia Foundation, the non-profit behind the free, publicly edited online encyclopedia. And the most popular article was about ChatGPT. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

(AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The campaign team behind Philadelphia’s embattled sheriff acknowledged Monday that a series of positive “news” stories posted to their site were generated by ChatGPT.

Sheriff Rochelle Bilal’s campaign removed more than 30 stories created by a consultant using the generative AI chatbot. The move came after a Philadelphia Inquirer story on Monday reported that local news outlets could not find the stories in their archives.

Experts say this type of misinformation can erode the public trust and threaten democracy. 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.”

Large language models like OpenAI’s ChatGPT work by repeatedly predicting the most plausible next word in a sentence. That makes them good at completing challenging prompts in seconds, but it also causes them to make frequent errors known as hallucinations.

Many Americans have started using these tools to write work emails, website copy and other documents more quickly. But that can lead to trouble if they don’t prioritize accuracy or carefully fact-check the material.

Two lawyers had to apologize to a judge in Manhattan federal court last year, for example, after they used ChatGPT to hunt for legal precedents and didn’t immediately notice that the system made some up.

Mike Nellis, founder of the AI campaign tool Quiller, called the campaign consultant’s use of AI “completely irresponsible.”

“It’s unethical,” he said. “It’s straight up lying.”

But he said OpenAI is responsible for enforcing its policies, which currently don’t allow politicians to use ChatGPT for campaigning. OpenAI didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Nellis said local, state and federal regulation of AI tools in politics is also needed as the technology advances. Though bipartisan discussions in Congress have stressed the need for such legislation, no federal law has passed yet.

The Bilal 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.

Some, including a fired whistleblower in Bilal’s office, fear such misinformation could confuse voters and contribute to ongoing mistrust and threats to democracy.

“I have grave concerns about that,” said Brett Mandel, who briefly served as her finance chief in 2020 and spoke before the campaign issued the statement.

“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,” he said, “but I think we have eroded all trust in this area.”

Mandel filed one of several whistleblower suits lodged against the office. He alleged he was fired for raising concerns about office finances. Bilal has been criticized during her tenure over office spending, campaign finance reports, the reported loss of hundreds of weapons and other issues.

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.


Swenson reported from New York.


The Associated Press receives support from several private foundations to enhance its explanatory coverage of elections and democracy. See more about AP’s democracy initiative here. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

 

KSL 5 TV Live

Politics & Elections

statue of a woman in front of marble walls...

Lindsay Aerts

Martha Hughes Cannon statue headed to US Capitol

A statue of Martha Hughes Cannon is headed to Washington D.C. to represent Utah.

17 hours ago

Eduardo Baca Cuenca, general consul of the Mexican Consulate in Salt Lake City, discusses voting by...

Tim Vandenack, KSL.com

‘They want to participate’: Mexicans in Utah will be able to take part in Mexico’s presidential vote

As the U.S. presidential campaign heats up, a parallel campaign south of the U.S. border for the Mexican presidency is reaching a crescendo.

3 days ago

President Joe Biden at the US Military Academy commencement ceremony in West Point, New York, on Ma...

Aileen Graef, Athena Jones and Shania Shelton, CNN

Biden touts expansion of NATO and actions in the Middle East during West Point commencement

President Joe Biden touted the expansion of NATO, his actions in the Middle East and progress in lowering military sexual assaults in a commencement address to the West Point graduating class Saturday.

3 days ago

Nathaniel Woodward announced ats UDP's Democratic nominee for Congressional District 2. (Photo: @Ut...

Carlysle Price

Utah Democratic Party announced Nathaniel Woodward as nominee for U.S. Congressional District 2

The Utah Democratic Party announced Nathaniel Woodward as their nominee for U.S. Congressional District 2 after a virtual, ranked choice vote that took place Saturday morning.

3 days ago

FILE - Associate Justice Samuel Alito joins other members of the Supreme Court as they pose for a n...

Mary Clare Jalonick, Associated Press

Democratic senators request meeting with Chief Justice Roberts over flags flown at Alito’s homes

Two Democratic senators are requesting a meeting with Chief Justice John Roberts after reports that two separate flags carried by rioters at the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol had flown outside of houses owned by Justice Samuel Alito.

4 days ago

FILE - Steam billows from a coal-fired power plant Nov. 18, 2021, in Craig, Colo. The U.S. Securiti...

David A. Lieb, Associated Press

Republican AGs ask Supreme Court to block climate change lawsuits brought by several states

Utah state attorney general joins eighteen other Republican AGs in asking the U.S. Supreme Court to get involved in a dispute over climate-change lawsuits.

4 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Electrician repairing ceiling fan with lamps indoors...

Lighting Design

Stay cool this summer with ceiling fans

When used correctly, ceiling fans help circulate cool and warm air. They can also help you save on utilities.

Side view at diverse group of children sitting in row at school classroom and using laptops...

PC Laptops

5 Internet Safety Tips for Kids

Read these tips about internet safety for kids so that your children can use this tool for learning and discovery in positive ways.

Women hold card for scanning key card to access Photocopier Security system concept...

Les Olson

Why Printer Security Should Be Top of Mind for Your Business

Connected printers have vulnerable endpoints that are an easy target for cyber thieves. Protect your business with these tips.

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light Up Your Home With These Top Lighting Trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for Hassle-Free Computer Repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

Close up of finger on keyboard button with number 11 logo...

PC Laptops

7 Reasons Why You Should Upgrade Your Laptop to Windows 11

Explore the benefits of upgrading to Windows 11 for a smoother, more secure, and feature-packed computing experience.

Philly sheriff’s campaign takes down bogus ‘news’ stories posted to site, generated by AI