By now, you might've heard about stalwart tech publisher CNET and its parent company Red Ventures, which surreptitiously published AI-written articles for months without telling readers — before they were caught. After we reported that the bot's work was found to be full of errors and plagiarism, Red Ventures announced a pause on the bot-written explainers at CNET as well as its sister sites Bankrate and (at least until the negative press died down).

Yet now, barely a week later, it looks like CNET's parent company is up to its old tricks. And once again, the bot's work was so flawed that the company pulled it down after we reached out with questions.

Since the pause, the AI writer's byline at CNET and has remained dormant. But Bankrate never quite stopped after the January 20 suspension, with two more AI-generated articles trickling out in the days following the announcement. And today, Bankrate published yet another AI-generated article.

When we saw it, we were intrigued: Surely, if the pause was already over, Bankrate editors would have scrutinized the story to an extraordinary degree to make sure it was free of mistakes, after the near-universal condemnation of the bot's previous error-plagued work.

As it turns out, nope. This new one had an idiotic mistake in the very second sentence (emphasis ours):

There are many different types of mortgages to suit a variety of budgets and financial situations. Among the options is a 5/1 ARM, which is a 30-year mortgage with a fixed rate for five years followed by periodic rate adjustments.

Wrong. While a 5/1 ARM (adjustable rate mortgage) is a real thing — more on that in a moment — they're offered at a variety of term lengths ranging much lower than 30 years.

The bigger issue, though, is that the AI-generated article offered this staggeringly irresponsible "pro" of the loans:

The obvious benefit of a 5/1 ARM is more affordable monthly payments compared with a 30-year fixed mortgage. Interest rates for ARMs in can be a full percentage point lower than comparable 30-year fixed loans.

Beyond the word salad — "ARMs in can be" — this is a textbook example of how cutting-edge AI frequently functions as a "bullshit generator," in the words of Princeton computer science professor Arvind Narayanan.

Typos aside, what's crucially at stake here is what the article doesn't say about this type of mortgage. The "5/1" means, essentially, that borrowers get a temptingly low interest rate for the first five years, which is then adjusted — usually jacked up — every year after that. In other words, the issuer gives you a good deal for a little while, and then an increasingly bad deal for a very long time — 25 years, in fact, in the fertile imagination of the company's witless AI system.

After we asked Red Ventures some questions about the AI-written article, it quickly disappeared from the bot's profile, along with the other two that Bankrate had published since the pause. It didn't respond to any of our questions.

If this sounds to you like a thinly-veiled attempt to imprison low-information prospective homeowners in crushing debt, you're not alone. Duke University's interdisciplinary American Predatory Lending and the Global Financial Crisis team found that ARMs were "one of many contributing factors to the housing bubble that set the stage for the 2008 financial crisis."

"They didn’t understand how the documents worked, they didn’t understand how the loans worked," North Carolina Justice Center director Al Ripley told a Duke researcher of homeowners who took on ARMs, "and they were losing their homes because of it."

The point of Bankrate's article, if it had been written in the service of a financially curious reader, would be to express that these types of mortgages are a good deal for five years, and very likely a terrible deal after that. Did it? Absolutely not. Instead, it makes these terrible loans sound like a great idea.

If anything, this next "pro" listed by the AI is even worse:

More house: The lower payment allows you to take on a bigger mortgage and get a larger or better-located house.

"More house," it says. And while trivially true, it's horrible financial advice for... almost everyone. Yes, this type of predatory loan could allow borrowers to lock down a lower payment for a few years, but they'll end up paying vastly more over the total lifetime of the loan — a point never explicitly addressed anywhere in the article, though it does point readers to affiliate links where they can get mortgages of their own — sending Red Ventures a healthy financial kickback, of course.

Are you a Bankrate employee? If you know anything about this AI, feel free to email us at We can keep you anonymous.

Believe it or not, this mess actually gets worse.  The issue isn't just that the company is just letting its dumb-as-rocks AI publish new articles; it's also using similar similar tech to rewrite existing articles, with the aim of fooling search engines into flagging the material as recently updated, a signal that can prompt a company like Google to treat it favorably in its search results.

But the articles didn't disappear entirely, which appears to be a perfect illustration of how Red Ventures' sites are using AI tech to juke Google's search algorithm.

"They use AI to rewrite the intros every two weeks or so because Google likes updated content," a former CNET employee told us in a previous story. "Eventually it gets so mangled that about every four months a real editor has to look at it and rewrite it."

That practice appears to be on full display in today's article. That's because Bankrate didn't fully delete it, instead opting to roll it back to a previous version, also bylined by the AI. In other words, it seems like Bankrate is basically using the AI like a blender to substantially reword sentences for artificial search engine clout.

In fact, using the AI as an automated rewriting machine appears to be exactly what caused today's mistake. Here's what the article said prior to today's changes:

A 5/1 ARM is a common type of 30-year adjustable-rate mortgage; this is a loan that adjusts its rate periodically.

This isn't the most artful description imaginable, but it actually was correct before the AI butchered it — a 5/1 ARM is indeed a subset of available types of 30-year adjustable-rate mortgages. But the AI scrambled it so heavily that it actually inserted an error, as we explained above, by heavily rewriting the syntax in today's version:

There are many different types of mortgages to suit a variety of budgets and financial situations. Among the options is a 5/1 ARM, which is a 30-year mortgage with a fixed rate for five years followed by periodic rate adjustments.

Even more interestingly, the first backed-up version of the article available on the Internet Archive shows that originally, it had a human byline. Oddly, the AI doesn't appear to have made a single change to the article before adding its byline sometime in 2022. The Bankrate journalist whose name was originally on the article didn't reply to a request for comment.

If you think about it, what's on display here is fairly astonishing even by the abysmal standards that Red Ventures' use of AI has set so far.

It's not just that the AI is publishing error-ridden and plagiaristic search engine bait aimed at pushing low-information readers toward credit cards and loans. It's that the AI also appears to be chewing through previously published content, stealing human bylines, and slowly zombifying their work into decaying misinformation machines.

Is that the future anyone wants for journalism? Most likely not — but it is the one that Red Ventures has pledged to restart, as soon as the public stops paying attention.

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