BNN Breaking Was an A.I. Sham

Conspirador Norteño” in January 2023:

BNN (the “Breaking News Network”, a news website operated by tech entrepreneur and convicted domestic abuser Gurbaksh Chahal) allegedly offers independent news coverage from an extensive worldwide network of on-the-ground reporters. As is often the case, things are not as they seem. A few minutes of perfunctory Googling reveals that much of BNN’s “coverage” appears to be mildly reworded articles copied from mainstream news sites. For science, here’s a simple technique for algorithmically detecting this form of copying.

Kashmir Hill and Tiffany Hsu, New York Times:

Many traditional news organizations are already fighting for traffic and advertising dollars. For years, they competed for clicks against pink slime journalism — so-called because of its similarity to liquefied beef, an unappetizing, low-cost food additive.

Low-paid freelancers and algorithms have churned out much of the faux-news content, prizing speed and volume over accuracy. Now, experts say, A.I. could turbocharge the threat, easily ripping off the work of journalists and enabling error-ridden counterfeits to circulate even more widely — as has already happened with travel guidebooks, celebrity biographies and obituaries.

See, it is not just humans producing abject garbage; robots can do it, too — and way better. There was a time when newsrooms could be financially stable on display ads. Those days are over for a team of human reporters, even if all they do is rewrite rich guy tweets. But if you only need to pay a skeleton operations staff to ensure the robots continue their automated publishing schedule, well that becomes a more plausible business venture.

Another thing of note from the Times story:

Before ending its agreement with BNN Breaking, Microsoft had licensed content from the site for, as it does with reputable news organizations such as Bloomberg and The Wall Street Journal, republishing their articles and splitting the advertising revenue.

I have to wonder how much of an impact this co-sign had on the success of BNN Breaking. Syndicated articles on MSN like these are shown in various places on a Windows computer, and are boosted in Bing search results. Microsoft is increasingly dependent on A.I. for editing its MSN portal with predictable consequences.

Conspirador Norteño” in April:

The YouTube channel is not the only data point that connects Trimfeed to BNN. A quick comparison of the bylines on BNN’s and Trimfeed’s (plagiarized) articles shows that many of the same names appear on both sites, and several X accounts that regularly posted links to BNN articles prior to April 2024 now post links to Trimfeed content. Additionally, BNN seems to have largely stopped publishing in early April, both on its website and social media, with the Trimfeed website and related social media efforts activating shortly thereafter. It is possible that BNN was mothballed due to being downranked in Google search results in March 2024, and that the new Trimfeed site is an attempt to evade Google’s decision to classify Trimfeed’s predecessor as spam.

The Times reporters definitively linked the two and, after doing so, Trimfeed stopped publishing. Its domain, like BNN Breaking, now redirects to BNNGPT, which ostensibly uses proprietary technologies developed by Chahal. Nothing about this makes sense to me and it smells like bullshit.