Feature Story  

Apple blog TUAW returns as an AI content farm

Tue, Jul 9, 2024
The Unofficial Apple Weblog (TUAW) has come back online nearly a decade after shutting down. But the once venerable source of Apple news appears to have been transformed by its new owners into an AI-generated content farm. The site, which ceased operations in 2015, began publishing "new" articles, many of which appear to be nearly identical to content published by MacRumors and other publications, over the past week. But those posts bear the bylines of writers who last worked for TUAW more than a decade ago. The site also has an author page featuring the names of former writers along with photos that appear to be AI-generated. Christina Warren, who last wrote for TUAW in 2009, flagged the sketchy tactic in a post on Threads. "Someone bought the TUAW domain, populated it with AI-generated slop, and then reused my name from a job I had when I was 21 years old to try to pull some SEO scam that won't even work in 2024 because Google changed its algo," she wrote. Originally started in 2004, TUAW was shut down by AOL in 2015. Much of the site's original archive can still be found on Engadget. Yahoo, which owns Engadget, sold the TUAW domain in 2024 to an entity called "Web Orange Limited" in 2024, according to a statement on TUAW's website. The sale, notably, did not include the TUAW archive. But, it seems that Web Orange Limited found a convenient (if legally dubious) way around that. "With a commitment to revitalize its legacy, the new team at Web Orange Limited meticulously rewrote the content from archived versions available on archive.org, ensuring the preservation of TUAW's rich history while updating it to meet modern standards and relevance," the site's about page states. TUAW doesn't say if AI was used in those "rewrites," but a comparison between the original archive on Engadget and the "rewritten" content on TUAW suggests that Web Orange Limited put little effort into the task. "The article 'rewrites' aren't even assigned to the correct names," Warren tells Engadget, "It has stuff for me going back to 2004. I didn't start writing for the site until 2007." TUAW didn't immediately respond to emailed questions about its use of AI or why it was using the bylines of former writers with AI-generated profile photos. Yahoo didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.  Update July 10, 2024, 11:05 AM ET: After this story was published, the TUAW website updated its author pages to remove many of the names of former staffers. Many have been swapped with generic-sounding names. "Christina Warren" has been changed to "Mary Brown." TUAW still hasn't responded to questions. This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/apple-blog-tuaw-returns-as-an-ai-content-farm-225326136.html?src=rss
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