Grok generates fake Iran missile attack headline

Occurred: April 2024

Elon Musk's Grok chatbot generated fake news about an alleged missile attack by Iran on Tel Aviv, resulting in the story's amplification on X/Twitter and leading to panic.

Grok, operating on Musk’s platform X/Twitter, picked up on fake rumours and generated a false headline stating that Iran had launched 'heavy' missile attacks on Tel Aviv, Israel. This misinformation was then promoted by X’s trending news product, Explore.

X's Explore page had earlier been updated to reintroduce written context for trending topics, with Grok tasked with generating narratives and headlines. Musk's had disbanded Twitter's human editorial team after his takeover of the platform, leaving a void in the platform's ability to authenticate and contextualise news trends.

The incident highlighted the importance of human oversight of AI systems, notably those processing real-time news during a war, and the potential for misuse of Grok by X's premium-subscribed users to generate misinformation. 

According to commentators, it also further damaged X's reputation as a trustworthy news channel.

Operator: Elon Musk
Developer: xAI Corp
Country: Iran; Israel
Sector: Govt -  defence; Govt - politics
Purpose: Summarise news articles
Technology: Chatbot
Issue: Mis/disinformation
Transparency: Governance