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it was a hoax

Irish Times editor says paper fell victim to 'coordinated deception' on hoax fake tan article

‘The person we were corresponding with was not who they claimed to be,’ Irish Times editor Ruadhán Mac Cormaic said.

THE EDITOR OF the Irish Times has apologised for a “hoax” article published by an unknown contributor on Thursday and said that the paper had breached the trust of its readers.

The newspaper had confirmed yesterday that it initiated a review over the publication of an article which said that using fake tan was “problematic” after the identity of the writer was revealed to be fake.

‘Irish women’s obsession with fake tan is problematic’ was published online under the byline ‘Adriana Acosta-Cortez’, who claimed in the piece to be a young Ecuadorian woman living in Ireland.

After it was discovered that a photo accompanying the byline may have been generated by AI the Irish Times removed the article from its site on Friday.

A statement released on the Irish Times’ website today by editor Ruadhán Mac Cormaic said that the company had “fallen victim to a deliberate and coordinated deception.”

“Less than 24 hours after publication on our digital platforms, The Irish Times became aware that the column may not have been genuine,” the statement read.

“That prompted us to remove it from the site and to initiate a review, which is ongoing. It now appears that the article and the accompanying byline photo may have been produced, at least in part, using generative AI technology.”

“It was a hoax; the person we were corresponding with was not who they claimed to be.”

Mac Cormaic added that the author had engaged with the paper’s editorial desk, made suggested edits and offered personal anecdotes, and that the paper had taken this “in good faith”.

A Twitter account with the same name as the article author has since tweeted criticism of the Irish Times, however is it unclear if the Twitter user is the same person behind the hoax.

“We don’t take this lightly,” Mac Cormaic’s statement continued.

“It 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. We need to make them more robust – and we will.”

“It has also underlined one of the challenges raised by generative AI for news organisations. We, like others, will learn and adapt.”

The statement ended by promising to “make space for new writers, not least those from under-represented communities,” and continuing to provide quality journalism.

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