AI Fail: X/Twitter’s “Grok” Falsely Reports Tyler Childers Postponements

Once again, AI as replacement for actual journalism spectacularly fails. This time the culprit is X/Twitter’s “Grok” tool, which the social media giant recently started using to generate news stories native to the application based off of information aggregated from tweets.

On Thursday and Friday night this week (April 18th and 19th), Tyler Childers was scheduled to play two sold-out shows at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena as part of his ’24 Mule Plow Tour. This is a landmark moment for the Kentucky native since it illustrates the commercial prowess of country music that is not supported by corporate country radio or the Music Row system.

Selling out the Bridgestone on one night, let alone two marks a critical achievement for any country music artist, and right in the belly of the corporate country beast.

On Thursday evening, Tyler’s show went off without a hitch, with 49 Winchester opening the show for Childers, and the tens of thousands of attendees walking away raving about the performance.

But according to X/Twitter, that show was postponed, along with Friday’s performance. In a trending news story generated by Grok, X/Twitter states,

Tyler Childers has postponed his highly anticipated Mule Pull ’24 Tour shows at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, TN, originally scheduled for April 18 and 19. The postponement is due to unforeseen circumstances, and new dates are being determined. Fans who had purchased tickets for the original dates can rest assured that their tickets will remain valid for the rescheduled shows. Despite the disappointment, fans are eagerly awaiting the rescheduled dates, showcasing their unwavering support for the Kentucky poet.

But of course, this information is completely false. This false information is not just being served by X/Twitter, it’s populating in the right sidebar on Desktop in Twitter’s “Explore” feature, and in people’s feeds on mobile as a trending topic.

In smaller font than the story itself, there is a short disclaimer that reads, “This story is a summary of posts on X and may evolve over time. Grok can make mistakes, verify its outputs.”

Below the story are tweets from reputable sources such as The Nashville Scene, The Ryman Auditorium, and a gaggle of other Twitter users, but none of them speak whatsoever about any postponements. And since the false news story is being presented as a trending topic, there’s a good chance it very well could convince some users with tickets that the shows have indeed been postponed.

According to the news story, it had been up for at least 15 hours. There is also no way to report or attempt to correct the false information.

Such fake news stories can have significant real-world implications. As Mashable reports, earlier in April, Grok and X/Twitter falsely reported that Iran had attacked Israel. Cybernews also reported a fake news story by Grok claiming that New York Mayor Eric Adams was deploying 50,000 cops to the subway system to “shoot” a recent earthquake. The Grok news story was based off of joke tweets.

Grok’s failure is just the latest in a string of AI mishaps as tech companies scramble to keep up with what they believe will be the next paradigm in technology and media, while human handlers are nowhere to be found to at least give tacit oversight into the process. This only assures the exacerbation of distrust in all of media as the integrity of AI-generated news often is even worse than the human version.

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