Bastardizing the News

Musk has radicalized Twitter and amplified misinformation. Now he wants to poison news itself.

Bastardizing the News

Elon Musk has a new plan for AI-powered news, reports Alex Kantrowitz.

According to Kantrowitz's Big Technology newsletter, Musk's plan is to use his Grok AI chatbot to build "a real-time synthesizer of news and social media reaction."

Grok News will, "use AI to combine breaking news and social commentary around big stories, present the compilation live, and allow you to go deeper via chat."

What could go wrong?

In typical shoot, fire, aim fashion, Musk has launched a product that still has, writes Kantrowitz, "plenty of room to improve."

Launched amid war in an election season rife with mis- and disinformation (and fast-moving campus protests), Musk's Grok-powered news service, has gone live without waiting "to figure out issues like citation and hallucination."

In early April, Grok promoted a false headline in X's trending news section, claiming Iran had attacked Tel Aviv with heavy missiles. Blue-check users quickly shared visual "proof" that Tel Aviv was "under heavy bombardment."

BBC: Elon Musk’s AI chatbot generated disinformation about an Iranian attack on Tel-Aviv

Even TIME's latest, much-discussed Trump interview and cover story wasn't deemed citation-worthy by Grok. That's a shame for TIME's editors because, as Josh Miller, CEO of The Browser Company, told Kantrowitz: “I definitely don't go to So if that was pushed to me, I would probably go read that TIME article. And I wouldn't have seen it otherwise.”

Maybe one day Musk will be able to stop Grok hallucinating about news that it won't let X users link to so they can verify it.

But the Musk-owned chatbot still has one Godzilla-sized problem that should scare anyone in search of reliable news content:

Igor Babuschkin, a technical staff member working at Musk’s xAI, said his team is focused on “making Grok understand the news purely from what is posted on X.”

In other words, Grok doesn't even count news as news unless it gets posted on X.

But that's not all:

Musk said Grok will not look directly at article text, and will instead rely solely on social posts.

Kantrowitz seems willing to believe in the idea of Grok news and imagine that:

In a perfect world, original sources and commentary could blend in Grok, drawing details from insiders, analysis from outsiders, and commentary from the herd. Leaders at Twitter had long dreamed of such a scenario. And perhaps the latest breakthroughs in generative AI have made it worth trying once more.

But Musk doesn't want a perfect world. He wants Elon's World.

As Luke Zaleski, legal affairs editor at Condé Nast, tweeted on May 3:

Twitter’s Elon’s World. He paid $44 billion to dominate your attention and determine what you see. He knows he can manipulate his personal platform to be in a position powerful enough to crown kings, pick presidents and help produce whatever personal or political outcome he wants.

So forget what Grok News might have been. It's not delivering actual news. Musk has made clear he has no interest in that.

Grok is simply serving a mashed-up, condensed version of what Musk and his male-dominated X "cesspool" is saying about that news.

Which means it's simply a new tool in the hands of the Meme-Lord who sees himself fighting "a battle to the death with the anti-civilizational woke mind virus."

P.S. In case Elon Musk hasn't made his plans for 2024 absolutely clear...

Puck News reported this week that Musk and his mini-me sidekick David Sacks recently convened "a secret billionaire dinner party in Hollywood," presaging "a major political realignment as Silicon Valley money turns against Biden and begins flowing to Donald Trump."

Attendees at the "Anti-Biden Bash" included notorious super-villains including Rupert Murdoch and Peter Thiel—and corrupt money-men such as former Trump Treasury Secretary (and fellow Saudi puppet) Steven Mnuchin.

In 2024, Musk is using money as well as memes to become a Putin-sized election influencer.

By letting his X users (and especially his racist, sexist, Christian-Nationalist super-users) pollute the news, he's replacing traditional journalists and fact-checkers with the collective voices of an audience that skews young, white and male. These users' hot takes on world events will feed a chatbot that's designed to deliver an anti-woke, pro-authoritarian interpretation of everything that's happening in this crucial election year.

And if turning X into a far-right propaganda firehose doesn't succeed, Musk is hedging his bets by joining forces with all the other greedy, anti-union, anti-democracy billionaires who are opening their wallets to gladly fund America's march toward fascism.

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