US Lawmakers Push for Scrutiny of NewsBreak Over Chinese Origins and AI-Generated Stories

By Madz Dizon

Jun 08, 2024 01:15 PM EDT

US Lawmakers Push for Scrutiny of NewsBreak Over Chinese Origins and AI-Generated Stories
Headlines of German news website articles, after Thuringia's state premier Bodo Ramelow admitted on chat app Clubhouse to playing Candy Crush on his phone during online pandemic response meetings with German Chancellor Angela Merkel
(Photo : ODD ANDERSEN/AFP via Getty Images)

Three US lawmakers are urging for increased scrutiny of NewsBreak, a widely-used news aggregation app in the United States. 

Reuters Exposes NewsBreak's AI-Generated Fake News

This comes after a Reuters report revealed that the app has Chinese origins and has been utilizing artificial intelligence tools to generate inaccurate news stories.

The Reuters article referenced undisclosed court documents regarding copyright infringement, cease-and-desist emails, and an internal memo from 2022 expressing concerns about "AI-generated stories." 

These documents revealed at least 40 cases where NewsBreak's usage of AI tools had an impact on the communities it aims to support, Reuters reported.

The lawmakers raised concerns about NewsBreak's connections to Chinese investors and its operations in China, where a significant number of its engineers are located.

NewsBreak responded to Reuters' request for comment by stating that it is an American company.

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NewsBreak's Chinese Origins, CEO's Patent Stir Controversy

NewsBreak was launched in the US in 2015 as a subsidiary of Yidian, a Chinese news aggregation app. 

The companies were both founded by Jeff Zheng, the CEO of NewsBreak. They also share a US patent registered in 2015 for an algorithm called the "Interest Engine." 

This algorithm recommends news content to users based on their interests and location, according to a report by Reuters. Yidian was commended by ruling Communist Party officials in China in 2017 for its effectiveness in spreading government propaganda. 

Reuters discovered no indication of NewsBreak engaging in censorship or generating news that was biased towards the Chinese government.

In 2017, Reuters reported on the praise that Yidian received from the CCP. However, it was unable to confirm any current ties between NewsBreak and the party.

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