Man Detained In China After Generating Fake News On ChatGPT

Joseph Iyanu
Man in China detained for generating & spreading fake news with AI bot, ChatGPT, in a first-of-its-kind case amid rising deepfake concerns.
China detains man for generating fake news with ChatGPT. Photo: Daniel Foster | Flickr

In a remarkable turn of events, Chinese authorities have detained a man who allegedly used ChatGPT, a sophisticated AI model, to create and distribute fake news online.

This marks China’s first such detention related to misuse of the AI bot.

The Detention

As reported by the South China Morning Post, Police in Gansu province announced on Sunday that a suspect, surnamed Hong, had been detained for “using artificial intelligence technology to concoct false and untrue information.”

The case grabbed the attention of the cyber division of a county police bureau when they spotted a fabricated news article claiming nine people had died in a local train accident on April 25.

This article, discovered on Baijiahao, a blog-style platform run by Chinese search engine Baidu, was simultaneously posted by over 20 accounts. By the time authorities were alerted, the stories had already received more than 15,000 clicks.

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Deepfake Regulations

This detention incident is the first to gain public attention since Beijing’s first regulations to control “deepfake” technology took effect in January.

The government is fighting to regulate the use of AI. Photo: Negative Space | Pexels

Known as the Administrative Provisions on Deep Synthesis for Internet Information Service, these regulations define deep synthesis as the use of technologies to generate text, images, audio, video, and to create virtual scenarios.

Authorities traced the origins of the fake article to a company owned by the suspect, which operated personal media platforms registered in Shenzhen, Guangdong province. The statement revealed that Hong confessed to evading Baijiahao’s duplication check function to publish on multiple accounts. 

He manipulated elements of trending social stories in China, inputting them into ChatGPT to swiftly produce different versions of the same fake story.

Accessing ChatGPT In China

While ChatGPT is not directly accessible to Chinese IP addresses, users can still use its service with a reliable VPN connection. This loophole has raised concerns about the misuse of AI technologies in the country.

It is impossible to access ChatGPT with a Chinese Ip address. Photo: Thomas Classen | Flickr

The Gansu public security department suggested that Hong was suspected of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble,” a crime that could carry a maximum sentence of five years. However, severe cases could result in a 10-year jail term and additional penalties.

Since 2013, this law has been extended to cover people deemed to have posted and spread false news or rumors online. Given the severity of the situation, China’s internet regulator has expressed concern that unchecked development and use of deep synthesis technology could lead to its use in criminal activities such as online scams or defamation.

Deepfakes and Global Concern

Deepfake technology, notorious for swapping the face or voice of one person for another, is becoming more difficult to detect due to technological advancements. This technology has been used worldwide to generate fake celebrity porn videos, produce fake news, and commit financial fraud.

In response, Western social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook have introduced measures to detect and prevent the spread of disinformation generated by deepfake technology. As ChatGPT gains popularity, law enforcement agencies, including those in China, have voiced suspicion and warnings about the technology.

In light of these events, the public is urged to stay vigilant and skeptical of “rumors” generated by AI technology such as ChatGPT. The case of Hong serves as a stark reminder of the potential misuse of AI and the urgent need for stringent regulations and public awareness.

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