Chinese Police Arrest a Man for Using ChatGPT for Fake News

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China Police Arrests Man for Allegedly Using ChatGPT to Generate Fake News

The authorities in China have arrested a man who allegedly used ChatGPT to generate and spread fake news online.

This marks the first time the country has held someone over misuse of artificial intelligence.

What happened?

The man, who Chinese police refer to by the surname Hong, has allegedly used ChatGPT to generate a story about a fake train crash. The article claimed that nine people had died in an accident that supposedly happened on April 25.

Over 20 Baijiahao accounts posted the news simultaneously. The story quickly gathered over 15,000 clicks before the authorities spotted and deleted it.

Later, the Gansu police arrested Hong for using AI to concoct untrue information. It said he exploited modern technological methods to spread panic on social media.

He later admitted to bypassing Baijiahao’s duplication check function to post the news on multiple accounts. Hong also said his friends showed him how to make money from the clicks he receives.

The authorities immediately accused him of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble.” This offense usually carries a maximum sentence of five years in jail. However, the past has seen terms of up to 10 years.

Train crashes have been a sensitive topic in China ever since the 2011 bullet train collision incident. At the time, the general public expressed outrage after state media failed to provide timely updates on the crash.

ChatGPT and VPN use in China

Hong equipped OpenAI’s ChatGPT with elements of news from the past few years. He then asked it to generate new articles he later shared online.

Although China is among the countries where the chatbot is unavailable, there are ways to bypass the restriction. 

Hong could’ve used a virtual private network to access ChatGPT. The Chinese government allows some VPNs, but using apps by unapproved providers is illegal. 

Homepages of vendors like ExpressVPN, which is among the best VPNs for ChatGPT, are inaccessible from the country.

Individuals who are caught using illegal services usually have to pay a fine. People who operate these VPNs face even harsher consequences. For example, a man who sold such software received a five and a half years jail sentence in 2013.

Similarly, Chinese citizens who use ChatGPT face fines of between 10,000 and 100,000 yuan ($1,454 – $14,545, respectively), and possibly a criminal investigation.

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