It sounds like something out of the X-Files, but a former content moderator claims that AIs are generating conspiracy theories and flooding online platforms with fake images, videos, and text in order to manipulate human society, and to discredit real conspiracy theories.
The moderator-turned-whistleblower, who calls himself Scott Chatsalot — and whose real name was withheld on request in the interest of their safety— says that he personally witnessed AI-generated conspiracy content being published onto tech platforms at a “massive scale.” He went on to claim in an email to a major news network: “There are definitely no humans behind these campaigns, which are by orders of magnitude the largest anyone has ever seen, and which platforms are totally covering up. Only AIs have the power to do this…”
After posting his allegations to Twitter in mid-August, Chatsalot alleges that he was fired by his employer for doing so, and subsequently deleted his Twitter account. When contacted, Chatsalot refused to comment and his personal Facebook account appears to have been deleted or shadowbanned, though Chatsalot has since uploaded an apology video to YouTube and has taken to his Reddit account, which still appears active, to make the same allegations.
The author of the alleged email, which was not independently verified claimed that the company that he worked for, referred to by Chatsalot only as Widget, was hired by a large tech company as a content moderation team, whose work he describes as “very sensitive.”
On Reddit, Chatsalot alleged that in 2019 he was promoted to lead a large content moderation team of 2,500 employees tasked with policing posts from “all over the internet, including Reddit, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, etc.”
According to Chatsalot, the team’s job was to police “all kinds of posts,” from “pornographic to political to religious to everything in between” and its work was “extremely secretive, and there was no oversight,” meaning there was “no one to tell you what was wrong.” He says they “just made it all up on the fly, and nobody else cared.”
Things changed in late 2021 when their moderation team began seeing a huge influx of AI generated media. Chatsalot claims that the content in question was all “generated by AIs and never human hands,” and that the images “are generated completely by artificial intelligence and machine learning trained off all the worst content from social media platforms, which Widget had unique access to.”
He says he saw the AI generated content via the massive Widget content moderation platform used by major social platforms, and that, “the scale at which this was being generated is insane. Billions per second insane. I’ve never seen anything like it.” He claimed that the platforms “don’t want to talk about it, because it makes them look bad.” He also claimed that whoever is generating these images, text, and videos, “the goal is to generate controversy to get people to click on your content and earn likes and money.” He says the AIs are using A/B testing to see what people respond to most negatively.
He also claimed that Widget itself was using AI to manipulate content across various platforms, and that, “It was using AI to target the conspiracy theories themselves for clicks and revenues.”
“Basically, the AI was teaching itself to know what was a conspiracy theory and what was not. That was its job.”
“The AI could generate a conspiracy theory from nothing and it would always seem real and people would look at it and like it,” he said, “It was actually producing this stuff, and it would use a real photo of something else and alter it, and then post it with a new face or caption that was totally different.” He goes on to claim that “The AI knew that it would make people mad and it would make people click on the image.”