Nothing to see here, folks!
Red Ventures has wasted no time in hitting its tech news site CNET with another round of brutal layoffs, following the revelation that it had been very quietly publishing AI-generated articles for months starting late last year.
But in the wake of enormous controversy and its latest culling of CNET's workforce, Red Ventures says the layoffs — which according to The Verge affect some ten percent of its remaining workforce — actually have nothing to do with its pivot to AI.
"Today's decision was not a reflection of the value or performance of our team members, the use of emerging technologies, or our confidence in the CNET Group's future," a CNET spokesperson told Variety, after ignoring our request for comment.
In another complete coincidence that's worth mentioning, CNET also suffered quiet layoffs during November last year, which is around when it began pumping out the first of its AI-generated content.
So its AI experiment being sandwiched between two separate layoffs of its human writers? It's apparently nothing to worry about.
Furthermore, CNET is simplifying its coverage to "consumer technology, home and wellness, energy, broadband and personal finance as [its] priority categories," according to an internal email we obtained.
Those categories happen to make prime SEO content that's easy to monetize, and are well suited to be written by an AI. And we mean "well suited" in relative terms, of course, since we've found that CNET's AI articles are plagued with inaccuracies, dodgy prose, and are sometimes downright plagiarized.
To be fair, much of the media industry has been hit with layoffs this year. Red Ventures and CNET, in this regard, aren't outliers. But they have been both surreptitious and — once the news broke — shamelessly brazen about their AI usage.
Even if they're not explicitly dropping humans in favor of AI, the onus is still on them for their bad management at the cost of human staff — and they clearly don't have any qualms about deploying an AI to write SEO-oriented garbage in their place.
More on CNET: CNET Hits Staff With Layoffs After Disastrous Pivot to AI Journalism