The news of the day doesn’t just drop in my lap for me to write about here. Well, sometimes it does, but other times I have to go looking for it. Much of the content I produce starts with a news story that serves as the catalyst for discussion.
Google’s news feed is one of the ways I get it. Since Google is built into my browser, it’s easy, even if I know they’re anti-gun. I don’t want stories that just agree with me, after all, since that would get boring pretty quickly, so an anti-gun slant isn’t a bad thing in and of itself.
But it seems Google has a problem brewing.
Let’s start by looking at a piece where the New York Post takes issue with the news feed.
Google News searches turn up AI-generated articles that brazenly steal from legitimate media outlets – and The Post has already identified at least one such ripoff of its own published work.
Late last week, The Post tested Google News by searching for recent articles about Federal Trade Commission nominee Melissa Holyoak and sorting the results by most recent date of publication.
The Post’s exclusive Jan. 8 story about Holyoak was listed lower in search results than a nearly identical ripoff – published by an outlet with the generic name “Business News” and the bizarre domain address “biz.crast.net” that seemingly cranks out troves of AI-generated articles.
The fake version of the article featured the same artwork – and even included references to “The Post” in its regurgitated copy. The ripoff is attributed to “Shawn Johnson,” whose byline turned up more than 17,800 pages of results and published dozens of articles last Friday alone.
By late afternoon on Friday, a Google spokesperson confirmed the article “violates our policy and will be removed.”
To be clear, the fact that it was AI wasn’t the issue for Google, only that it was, in essence, spam.
The internet is full of these AI generated content farms that simply churn out low-quality work of dubious value that often ranks higher than legitimate news sources.
So what does this have to do with gun rights?
Because there are some very questionable things going on if you search “guns,” “gun control,” or “gun rights.”
You see, while hunting for stories for Bearing Arms, I came across this a few weeks ago.
It started with talking about a guy being sentenced for brandishing a firearm in New Jersey and claiming it was sparking gun control debate, but then there was this at the end:
Implications for Public Safety
Incidents like these underline the urgent need for stricter gun control laws and responsible gun ownership. The presence of ‘ghost guns’ and other unregulated firearms in public spaces can lead to unpredictable and hazardous situations. As Walker’s case illustrates, illegal possession and misuse of firearms can result in severe legal consequences, serving as a stark reminder of the potential implications for public safety.
That made absolutely no sense as an argument. Brandishing is illegal pretty much everywhere and the case in question had nothing to do with ghost guns or anything like that, so I used a tool designed to determine if something is AI created or not. Teachers use it to catch people using ChatGPT to write their papers, but it was handy for me.
Because this wasn’t a real article. No person wrote this, nor the other two all stemming from a simple brandishing charge.
The site, BNN Breaking, is one of two particular AI content mills I’ve run across lately, all “covering” politically-charged news stories such as gun control with text created by software. They’re no different than “Business News” that the Post is taking issue with.
In time, Google does, in fact, seem to put the kibosh on these sites showing up in the news feed, but it takes time.
Meanwhile, despite looking under those three topics I mentioned earlier, do you know what I never see in that feed? Bearing Arms.
The only Bearing Arms-related content that shows up at all are episodes of Cam & Company, which is something, but it’s only via the link on YouTube, which Google owns and will never throttle. The story here that supports the video and has it embedded into it never shows up.
“Well, yeah, but Google is anti-gun,” some might argue, but that’s not it.
I know it’s not it because our friends over at The Truth About Guns show up in that feed pretty regularly. They’re not somehow less pro-gun than we are. So that leaves me scratching my head.
Look, Google not having us in the news feed for the very topics we cover exclusively isn’t a new thing.
However, it strikes me as odd that Google excludes us yet has no way to prevent inane, AI-written drivel to infest its news feed.
I reached out to Google to see if we have intentionally been excluded and, if so, why? However, the only official response I got was from a Google spokesperson who said, “We take the quality of our results extremely seriously and have clear policies against content created for the primary purpose of ranking well on News and we remove sites that violate it.”
Whether that was meant to imply we somehow created such content was not clear.