Reddit tricks an AI into writing an article about a fake World of Warcraft character

Glorbo schmorbo.
By Elizabeth de Luna  on 
World of Warcraft Dragonflight Alexstrasza Key Art
Credit: World of Warcraft

As more internet publications cut corners by replacing human writers with AI, a new opportunity arises: pranking the bots. Yesterday, Reddit users over on the World of Warcraft subreddit perfected the bit, posting fake news to the forum to successfully trick a site the sub suspects of scraping their posts for content.

On July 20, Reddit user kaefer_kriegerin made a text post expressing their excitement over the impending arrival of a new WoW player named Glorbo. Glorbo is not real, and the author made their aim for creating him clear, writing at the top of the post, "I just really want some major bot operated news websites to publish an article about this."

And because AI and context don't mix well (yet), the bright bot minds over at at a site called The Portal wrote up the arrival of Glorbo as actual news. The site, managed by social gaming app Z League, has since deleted the article.

The purported author produced a nearly-inhuman output of 87 articles on July 20. Most of their work is recapping fan reactions to games and related announcements, which can easily be scraped from across fan forums. Out of curiosity, I searched for the author on LinkedIn and was unsuccessful in finding them. A Google search only provided articles for Z League and no other work.

We have reached out to Z League to confirm if The Portal uses AI-powered aggregation tools but have not received a reply as of this time.

Major news companies have been under fire for replacing human writers with artificial intelligence, and Glorbo-gate underscores AI's inability for critical thinking and healthy skepticism. Just this week, it was reported that Google had developed and was actively pitching a tool that can write news articles.

It's unclear if The Portal is employing artificial intelligence to churn out hundreds of articles a day, but Wowhead reports that a second article written based on a Reddit post created to bait bots has also been deleted. The author of that article published a whopping 118 articles on July 20.

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Elizabeth de Luna

Elizabeth is a culture reporter at Mashable covering digital culture, fandom communities, and how the internet makes us feel. Before joining Mashable, she spent six years in tech, doing everything from running a wifi hardware beta program to analyzing YouTube content trends like K-pop, ASMR, gaming, and beauty. You can find more of her work for outlets like The GuardianTeen Vogue, and MTV News right here

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