When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Here’s how it works.

The Guardian battles controversy over offensive AI-backed poll, blames Microsoft for it

In 2020, Microsoft announced huge layoffs across MSN and Azure organizations, among others, due to the company replacing its editor and curators with AI algorithms. Now, the algorithms seem to have caused an issue between Microsoft and The Guardian.

Today, The Guardian accused Microsoft of damaging its reputation after an inappropriate AI-generated poll appeared beside the tragic news of the death of 21-year-old Lilie James in Sydney.

Appearing right beside it, the distasteful poll asked users what the reason for the woman’s death was and gave readers the option to choose between murder, suicide, or accident. Naturally, the poll disturbed readers and was soon taken down from the website.

Nevertheless, the damage was already done as some highly critical comments from readers were still up until Tuesday morning on the article. Some of the Microsoft Start readers, according to The Guardian, were also unaware that it was Microsoft that created the poll. This affected The Guardian's reputation.

One of such comments called out The Guardian stating, “This has to be the most pathetic, disgusting poll I’ve ever seen,” while another wrote, “Tamsin [the Guardian journalist] should be sacked for that poll. No community guidelines at play here obviously??”

Following this, the chief executive of the Guardian Media Group, Anna Bateson, wrote a letter to Microsoft president, Brad Smith discussing the issue.

The two-page letter, as shared by The Guardian with The Verge, argues that the AI-generated poll makes it seem as if The Guardian had displayed it, hence, damaging its reputation. Moreover, the letter calls out Microsoft saying that there is a “strong case” for the company attaching a note with the article taking full responsibility for the incident.

The letter also adds:

“We would also like your assurance that a) Microsoft will not apply these experimental technologies on or alongside Guardian licensed journalism without our explicit prior approval; and b) that Microsoft will always make it clear to users of of your platforms wherever genAI is involved in creating additional units and features as they apply to third party journalism from trusted news brands like the Guardian.”

Bateson even went as far as to call this an “inappropriate use” of generative AI and an incident that emphasizes the “important role that a strong copyright framework plays” in helping journalists and publishers to discuss how their work is shared online.

The Guardian has asked Microsoft to comment, however, Microsoft has not sent a reply to the letter or shared a statement addressing the issue yet.

Report a problem with article
A Microsoft OneNote Logo
Next Article

OneNote for Windows adds new digital pen features; Copilot to be added in November

crucial T500 ssd
Previous Article

The Crucial T500 internal SSDs are now available for PCs and PS5s

Join the conversation!

Login or Sign Up to read and post a comment.

4 Comments - Add comment