February 25, 2024

The internet is quickly becoming a slurry of AI-generated garbage, and Google has decided to just let us all marinate in it. Anyone online can see that Google Search is getting worse, but now it’s becoming clear why. Google News is boosting AI-generated garbage over real, human journalism, according to a report from 404 Media Thursday.

Google said it does not prioritize articles written by humans over AI-generated content in a statement to 404 Media. So, search results often include AI articles that plagiarize real journalists but are riddled with mistakes that make the content nonsensical. The report highlights one publication, Worldtimetodays.com, which produces AI-generated content and appears in Google News search results. One of its articles reads “war of stars fans,” instead of Star Wars fans, and very clearly reproduces an article from Distractify.

A Google spokesperson said it was “inaccurate” that these sites were prominently featured on Google News, in a statement to Gizmodo.“The sites in question only appeared for narrow queries,” said the spokesperson. However, the queries 404 Media references were not particularly narrow, including “star wars theory” and “midjourney.”

Yesterday, Gizmodo reported that the quality of Google search results was getting worse, largely because of SEO tricks that websites use to rank higher, usually for affiliate marketing purposes. Ultimately, useful information is being crowded out by SEO-optimized, AI-generated nonsense designed to get you to buy something.

A Google spokesperson told 404 Media that its search engine prioritizes “the quality of the content, rather than how it was produced.” One reason Google might be sitting on the fence here is that the company, itself, is a large player in the generative AI world with Google Gemini.

Ideally, Google would like its own AI to answer your queries. They’re experimenting with Search Generative Experience, a pilot AI chatbot that’s built into Google Search. Google’s AI will likely be better than what we’re seeing today, but will also be informed by the work of real, human journalists, just like Worldtimetodays.com.

A new study found that a “shocking” amount of the internet is AI-translated gibberish, making it much harder for search engines and people to sort through the muck, according to Motherboard. Generative AI is highly susceptible to mistakes, and that’s crowding the internet with more unreliable information than ever.

Google is in an uncomfortable position here, stuck between providing good, accurate results for its users and its own AI ambitions. Tech in general is having a power struggle with the news industry at the moment, as The New York Times sues OpenAI for copyright infringement. For now, that means a lesser experience for end users, and that your search results will likely get worse before they get better.