In a recent development, it has been revealed that Sports Illustrated has severed ties with its supplier, AdVon Commerce, over allegations of publishing articles supposedly written by non-existent authors and featuring AI-generated photographs. Arena Group, the company that manages Sports […]
In a recent development, it has been revealed that Sports Illustrated has severed ties with its supplier, AdVon Commerce, over allegations of publishing articles supposedly written by non-existent authors and featuring AI-generated photographs. Arena Group, the company that manages Sports Illustrated, has stated that the content in question originated from a third party that provided assurances that the articles were authored by humans.
The decision to terminate the partnership was made after Futurism published an article providing evidence that several authors listed on Sports Illustrated’s website had their photographs available for purchase on a site that sells AI-generated images. For instance, the biography of a writer named “Drew Ortiz” on Sports Illustrated’s website claimed that he spends his weekends camping, hiking, or returning to his parents’ farm. However, the photograph of “Drew Ortiz” displayed on Sports Illustrated’s page was found to be accessible on a website specializing in AI-generated images, described as a “neutral young adult male with short brown hair and blue eyes,” according to Futurism’s report. Following Futurism’s inquiry to Arena Group, the biographies of the fictitious writers vanished. The articles allegedly written by AI-generated authors now include a disclaimer stating that “this content has been created by a third party” and that the “Sports Illustrated editorial team was not involved in creating this content.”
In response to these findings, a spokesperson for Arena Group stated to Variety, “The articles in question are product reviews and licensed content from an external company, AdVon Commerce. Some of AdVon’s e-commerce articles have been published on specific Arena websites. We were continuously monitoring our partners and were in the process of review when these allegations were raised. AdVon assured us that all the disputed articles were written and edited by humans.”
The representative from Arena Group continued, “According to AdVon, their writers, editors, and researchers create and select content following guidelines that include the use of plagiarism detection software and artificial intelligence across all articles. However, we learned that AdVon allowed writers to use pseudonyms in certain articles to protect their authorial privacy – a practice we do not endorse – and we have removed such content as an internal investigation is underway, and since then, we have terminated our partnership.”
Notably, Sports Illustrated was acquired by Authentic Brands Group (ABG) in 2019 from Meredith for $110 million (prior to Meredith’s acquisition by IAC’s Dotdash). ABG subsequently licensed the media and publishing rights for the SI brand to Maven, which rebranded as Arena Group Holdings in 2021. Headquartered in New York, Arena Group claims to manage over 265 brands, including Sports Illustrated, TheStreet, Parade, Men’s Journal, and HubPages.