Microsoft calls deceased NBA player ‘useless’ in AI-written obituary

The MSN article that was supposed to pay tribute to the late NBA star Brandon Hunter was offensive and incomprehensible.

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Microsoft has been criticised after publishing an AI-generated obituary for NBA star Brandon Hunter.

The former Boston Celtics and Orlando Magic player passed away suddenly this week, aged 42, after collapsing during a hot yoga class in Orlando, Fla.

Shortly after his passing, fans were shocked to see the father of three described as “useless” in an obituary published on MSN.

The headline read:

  • “Brandon Hunter useless at 42.”
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Why we care. MSN laid off two dozen editorial staff a few years ago with plans to replace the writers with generative AI, the Guardian reported. This case highlights the importance of not relying solely on AI for generating content due to factual inaccuracies and problematic errors, and the need to ensure that all work produced by AI is supervised by humans. Failure to do so could harm your brand’s reputation as well as negatively impacting your search rankings.

Incomprehensible. While the MSN headline was offensive, the rest of the article was incoherent. It read:

  • “Former NBA participant, Brandon Hunter, who beforehand performed for the Boston Celtics and Orlando Magic, has handed away on the age of 42, as introduced by Ohio male’s basketball coach Jeff Boals on Tuesday.”
  • “Hunter, initially a extremely regarded high school basketball participant in Cincinnati, achieved vital success as a ahead for the Bobcats.”

Reputational damage. Despite swiftly removing the article from the MSN website, Microsoft was criticized on social media for publishing the offensive content:

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What Microsoft is saying. A Microsoft spokesperson told Search Engine Land:

  • “The accuracy of the content we publish from our partners is important to us, and we continue to enhance our systems to identify and prevent inaccurate information from appearing on our channels. The story in question has been removed.”

However, the company is yet to officially apologize.

Dig deeper. Futurism broke the news in Microsoft Publishes Garbled AI Article Calling Tragically Deceased NBA Player “Useless”.

Other brands stumbles with AI. We’ve previously reported on a number of brands that have published articles with errors, all of which were lacking in E-E-A-T in different ways:

  • Men’s Journal published an AI-generated article, What All Men Should Know About Low Testosterone, that contained bad advice and information.
  • BuzzFeed published 44 terrible “AI-assisted” articles.
  • Gizmodo published an article on “Star Wars” with numerous factual errors.
  • Red Ventures-owned properties (including CNET, BankRate and have also leaned heavily into AI-generated content.

As a reminder, Google doesn’t care who – or what – writes your content, as long as that content is helpful and not created to manipulate search results.

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.

About the author

Nicola Agius
Nicola Agius was Paid Media Editor of Search Engine Land from 2023-2024. She covered paid media, retail media and more. Prior to this, she was SEO Director at Jungle Creations (2020-2023), overseeing the company's editorial strategy for multiple websites. She has over 15 years of experience in journalism and has previously worked at OK! Magazine (2010-2014), Mail Online (2014-2015), Mirror (2015-2017), Digital Spy (2017-2018) and The Sun (2018-2020). She also previously teamed up with SEO agency Blue Array to co-author Amazon bestselling book Mastering In-House SEO.

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