Google is paying small publishers to use their AI platform to rewrite the content published on news sites that are targeted by Google’s platform for largescale content parasitism. People on Twitter express unfavorable opinions about it.

Google is paying small independent publishers to use a generative AI platform that targets the content of other news content for summarization and republication. According to a paywalled article published on AdWeek, the tool is a beta test that requires the publishers to post a required number of articles per day in order to receive their payment.

Small publishers use a tool that shows them content chosen by the AI tool that can be selected in order to produce content at “at no cost.”

Why Google’s New Tool Is Problematic

It’s common for a news organization to pick up on news that’s broken by another news organization and if it’s done by a capable journalist they put their own spin on it. It’s the way things are done.

Google’s tool however appears to resemble a programmatic way to plagiarize content called article spinning. Article spinning is an automated tactic that uses website feeds to input published content from other sites that is then rewritten by the computer program, typically by replacing words with synonyms. AI however can spin content with greater nuance, essentially summarizing the content in a different tone by replacing entire sentences and paragraphs with content that’s the same as the original but expressed in a different manner.

What’s different is that this tool is something that Google itself is testing and that’s problematic not just because Google is the de facto gatekeeper for online content, the tool places a target on specific news organizations to have their content spun by small independent publishers.

On the one hand that could be a good thing because it could generate inbound links to the original publisher of the news. Free links, that’s a win-win, right?

But it’s not because news publishers don’t really benefit from links to content that has a shelf life of roughly 48 hours, at most. News is a hamster wheel of constant news publication in the service of keeping the wheel spinning to keep the business afloat. It’s a nonstop process that can easily be undermined by wholesale content dilution.

And that’s really at the hear of the problem with Google’s AI tool in that it dilutes the value that an organization creates by hiring professionals to create the “value add” content that Google frequently says it wants to publish. And that is what makes Google’s AI tool hypocritical at best and cynical at worst because Google is encouraging the creation of high quality content while simultaneously undermining it.

An army of publishers programmatically copying every published news article doesn’t look so good to the original publisher, especially if their content is overwhelmed by the parasitic AI in Google News, in the search results and by user preference for their local online news publisher who is republishing the news from the bigger publishers.

Reaction To Google’s AI News Tool

Technology journalist Brian Merchant (who writes for The Atlantic and has published a book) posted a virtual thumbs down on Twitter, a sentiment that was unanimously seconded.

He tweeted:

“The nightmare begins — Google is incentivizing the production of AI-generated slop.

If you are a news outlet who has accepted this meager deal, and especially if you are publishing AI-generated articles without disclaimers, you should be deeply ashamed.”

Brian followed up with this tweet with his observation of what’s wrong with Google’s AI tool for small news sites:

“If we in the media have learned ANYTHING from the last 10 years it is that we do not in fact have to settle for whatever scraps big tech throws us, and in fact it will screw us in the end—why would you participate in automating your field out of existence for like $30k a year???”

Merchant retweeted a comment by technology journalist Alex Kantrow:

“This is sad. Is this the web Google wants?”

Another person tweeted:

“It’s all about unchecked and untaxed profit.

Of course the is what Google wants – corporations selling out their employees and Americans in general for a quick buck.”

A person who works for Microsoft invoked the concept of “autophagy” which when an organism begins consuming itself such as when it is starving.

She tweeted:

“The quality of news content will decline and hurt search. Autophagy is a real threat to information quality and it looks like no one is taking it seriously.”

The Future Of Content

This isn’t just a “news” problem, it’s a problem for everyone who earns a living publishing online content. What can be used for News publications can easily be adapted for product reviews, recipes, entertainment and virtually any topic that affiliates publish content on.

How do you feel about Google’s new tool? Will it help small publishers compete against bigger sites or is it just the onset of autophagy in the body of online publishing?





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Google Testing AI Tool That Finds & Rewrites Quality Content