Chinese police arrest man who allegedly used ChatGPT to spread fake news

This photo illustration shows the ChatGPT logo in an office in Washington, DC on March 15, 2023.

Stefani Reynolds | AFP | Getty Images

Chinese police have arrested a man they believe used ChatGPT to create a fake article about a train crash, in what appears to be the first case of coercive action taken in China under an unprecedented anti-terrorism law. ‘artificial intelligence.

The case highlights efforts by Chinese authorities to regulate and control uses of AI as the technology advances.

Police in northwestern China’s Gansu province have arrested a man, surnamed Hong, who they believe fabricated a story about a train crash that killed nine people.

Authorities found that more than 20 accounts posted the article on a blogging platform owned by Chinese search giant Baidu and garnered more than 15,000 views.

Hong allegedly used ChatGPT to create slightly different versions of the fake news article to pass duplicate checks on the Baidu-owned platform.

ChatGPT, created by the American company OpenAI, is an example of a chatbot based on generative AI technology, which allows software to generate responses based on user prompts and questions. For example, users can instruct ChatGPT to create a story based on specific instructions.

Gansu police authorities arrested Hong under the first-of-its-kind law governing “deep synthesis technologies” that China introduced this year. Deep synthesis technologies refer to AI used to generate text, images, videos or other media. The law states that deep digest services cannot be used to spread fake news.

China drafted the law as ChatGPT took off and went viral, as authorities sought to get ahead of the technology. Internet in China is heavily censored and controlled. Beijing has sought to introduce laws governing new technologies that could worry the central government.

ChatGPT is blocked in China but can be accessed using a virtual private network – software that can help circumvent the country’s internet restrictions.

The Chinese tech giants are currently testing their own rivals on ChatGPT. But these are not widely available chatbots like ChatGPT. Instead, Chinese companies have been more cautious in their approach and partly targeted specific uses, analysts told CNBC, so as not to scare off regulators and the government.

For example, from Alibaba The Tongyi Qianwen AI product will eventually be rolled out to its DingTalk workplace communication software and Tmall Genie, a smart home appliance provider.


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