Irish newspaper gets pranked into publishing piece on 'how spray tans are problematic' by a fake Twitter account pretending to be an Ecuadorian health worker

The Irish Times has now taken down a woke story that was critical of Irish women using fake tans after it was discovered that the piece had been submitted by someone who used artificial intelligence to write it. The opinion piece was apparently published on May 11 and claimed that “Irish women’s obsession with fake tan is problematic,” per Fox News.

The article in question was reportedly submitted by Adriana Acosta-Cortez, an Ecuadorian health worker from Dublin, who did not actually exist. The woke op-ed piece exposed a vulnerable spot in the publication process of the outlet, with editor Ruadhán Mac Cormaic saying that the incident “was a breach of the trust between the Irish Times and its readers, and we are genuinely sorry.”

"The incident has highlighted a gap in our pre-publication procedures," they said.

One part of the op-ed reads: "Fake tan represents more than just an innocuous cosmetic choice; it raises questions of cultural appropriation and fetishisation of the high melanin content found in more pigmented people.”

While the piece suggested that Irish women spray tanning is a form of racism, the Irish Times soon discovered that they had been on the receiving end of a “deliberate and coordinated deception.” The paper found that the author of the piece had used a fake identity, and they had used Chat GPT4 to generate about 80 percent of the piece. 

Additionally, the submitter also used Dalle-E 2 to create a profile photo of a standard-looking woke journalist, using such prompts as “female, overweight, blue hair, business casual clothing, smug expression,” per The Guardian.

A Twitter account that seemed to belong to Acosta-Cortez was found to be a fake, which the account admitted when it said that it was just “stirring the sh**,” per the report.

The fake account posted to Twitter on Friday, saying: “@IrishTimes genuinely sad that a once respectable news source has degraded themselves with such divisive tripe in order to generate clicks and traffic for their website. You need a better screening process than a believable gmail address.”

Fox News reported how the user pulled it off, with them saying: "I made a semi-legitimate Gmail address with no numbers and I also repurposed a Twitter account that I set up during Covid.”

"I wiped it and followed some accounts, news and Ecuadorian outlets, some Spanish language to make it look legit."

Mac Cormaic noted that the paper must improve in certain areas, as well as addressing the challenges of dealing with AI in the future. "It has also underlined one of the challenges raised by generative AI for news organisations. We, like others, will learn and adapt.”

Image: Title: acosta cortez


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