Interest in ChatGPT has exploded this year with the launch of ChatGPT3 and, subsequently, ChatGPT4. In this piece, I am using “ChatGPT” as a catchall for “conversational AI” because much of the underlying technology is the same. One question that jumped to my mind as I was exploring tools like Jasper.ai last year was how this would impact SEO and whether it would cause large problems with disinformation.
Early signs in my use pointed to yes – conversational AI provides no sourcing or transparency because, like most AI models, it operates as a black box even to the developers. In their current forms, conversational AI doesn’t return a list of data it used or a confidence score, and it will tell you misinformation with the same eloquence as an expert in the field.
The first evidence in the wild I saw of this was at the beginning of 2023 when in my field, I noticed many “Amazon gurus” were sharing the same advice about optimizing for the new Amazon search A10 – which I knew was not a thing. I confirmed over the next month by just asking the source of the data and was told “ChatGPT,” and then when I Googled, I quickly found a lot of AI content discussing generically optimizing for the new “A10” search.
There is no “A10” search, I validated this with several sources, but I thought the easiest way was just to check the Trademarks Amazon holds. They maintain their trademarks on their A9 search team/technology, and there is no mention of this A10 – there has never been from Amazon.
ChatGPT and content marketing leave no room for facts.
Chat GPT has lowered the cost for quickly throwing up a web page in response to a competitor or trending topic. Across the web, publishers are trying to respond to trending topics in social media, search, and on their own platforms. This constant demand for eyes, whether it’s for sales or to boost advertising revenue, has left unscrupulous publishers scaling misinformation across the web.
ChatGPT makes “expertise” cheap, and misinformation spreads quickly.
There are literally hundreds of tools launched every month in conversational AI, and prior to the explosion of interest, there were already hundreds of startups working with GPT3+ capabilities.
All of this is to say for early adopters, ChatGPT has been in their hands for over a year, and the level of automation for various marketing tasks is mind-boggling. AI tools can do a lot – including writing all your annoying and pesky sales funnel content.
Sales, sales, sales?
I know the motto “always be selling,” but when I dug deeper into this trend, it was astounding. Nearly every top “Amazon guru” on LinkedIn had posted about A10, and many later removed it after I contacted them. A few people even published content on LinkedIn to rank in Google. I found this surprising because I figured as many of these services had large clients – I assumed many would know and push back on this idea of a new search algorithm or at least ask for follow-ups.
Social media is at risk for misinformation.
I think social media, in particular, will be vulnerable to massive waves of misinformation – it seems to outperform regular information because it often takes people by surprise. For example, you could just have a marketing strategy based on making up fake new launches of Google SEO algorithm updates to sell SEO services. Pushed in social media, it would be unlikely to get taken down and spread quickly.
In March of 2023, I saw the largest influencers in my Amazon space begin to post about A10 (no one is named negatively in this article), and I reached out to them, not hearing much back. After a few more days, I saw someone who read the information on social media and reposted who has a large influence – “My Amazon Guy” posted about how to optimize for A10. I contacted him and LinkedIn with no immediate result (honestly, I assume My Amazon Guy was researching more), but then I decided to post about how he had picked up on misinformation – all posts, including mine, were immediately removed.
Further to his credit, My Amazon Guy has put out a correction on his other social media, YouTube.
What’s next? A stronger push from platforms for “real identity.”
Conversational AI will not only increase misinformation – it’s going to dramatically drive up the cost of managing it. Social media has an outsized impact on our lives, and we as a society just hooked up a fire hose of misinformation to it.