Perplexity AI is accused of ripping off news websites

Occurred: June 2024

AI company Perplexity was accused of using content from prominent news publishers without proper credit or attribution.

The issue was highlighted in a feature called “Perplexity Pages,” which displayed articles “curated” and summarised by the company's algorithms while scraping content from third-party news outlets, including Forbes, CNBC and Bloomberg

The news outlets were not credited by name within the curated article text, and the wording closely matched that of the source. Instead, small logos that linked back to the original story were included, which Forbes described as “small, easy-to-miss.” 

In one instance, Perplexity’s chatbot reproduced a version of an exclusive, paywalled Forbes report on ex-Google CEO Eric Schmidt’s military drone project, lifting near-verbatim passages and even an in-house graphic from Forbes’ original story.

Perplexity AI CEO Aravind Srinivas acknowledged the 'rough edges' of the new feature, but claimed that their chatbot cites third-party outlets more prominently than rival services. By contrast, Forbes' executive editor slammed it as "plagiarism" and "theft". 

The incident highlighted the challenges of balancing innovation with proper attribution and journalistic ethics in AI-driven content generation.

Operator: Forbes
Developer: Perplexity AI
Country: USA
Sector: Technology
Purpose: Summarise content
Technology: Chatbot; NLP/text analysis; Neural network; Deep learning; Machine learning; Reinforcement learning
Issue: Cheating/plagiarism; Copyright; Ethics/values
Transparency: Governance; Marketing