• AI search startup Perplexity was accused of "ripping off" Forbes' work without sufficient attribution.
  • Wired then alleged Perplexity likely used "a secret IP address" to access content not intended for AI.
  • Forbes has threatened to take legal action against Perplexity.

If you follow AI news, there's a decent chance you've seen Perplexity taking some heat on social media in recent weeks.

The AI search engine, which can scan the internet in real time to provide answers, is valued at over $1 billion and has received funding from Jeff Bezos and Nvidia.

Now, it's facing allegations of ripping off publishers' work without proper attribution.

So what happened?

Forbes calls out Perplexity

On June 6, Forbes released an investigative article on former Google CEO Eric Schmidt's AI drone startup. The next day, Perplexity published an AI-generated webpage about the story using its new "Perplexity Pages" feature and sent it to its subscribers.

John Paczkowski, an executive editor at Forbes, called Perplexity out on X, saying, "It rips off most of our reporting. It cites us, and a few that reblogged us, as sources in the most easily ignored way possible."

Perplexity's AI-generated webpage didn't prominently cite Forbes, Paczkowski said, and elevated other news coverage of the story in its citations — including an article from Business Insider about the Forbes piece — over Forbes' original reporting.

Perplexity CEO Aravind Srinivas thanked Packowski for flagging the issue and said the product "has rough edges" and agreed that sources should be more easily found and visibly highlighted.

Perplexity then updated the AI-generated webpage to more prominently cite Forbes' work, but an AI-generated Perplexity podcast about the topic still does not mention Forbes in the audio.

Forbes later released a statement accusing Perplexity of "ripping off" multiple articles from various publications, including CNBC and Bloomberg.

Perplexity's CEO told the Associated Press that it "never ripped off content from anybody" and that "we are actually more of an aggregator of information."

Forbes threatens legal action

Forbes sent a letter to Perplexity's CEO demanding that the startup make changes to its AI-generated article citations and reimburse Forbes for any advertising revenue it generated from the Perplexity Pages based on Forbes' reporting, Axios reported.

Forbes said "it looks forward to a reply" within 10 days and threatened to reserve "all of its rights to take any action it deems necessary to protect its rights," per Axios.

Wired investigates Perplexity's web crawling

On Wednesday, Wired published an investigation into Perplexity that found its AI was "paraphrasing WIRED stories, and at times summarizing stories inaccurately and with minimal attribution."

Wired also said Perplexity was likely bypassing publishers who indicated via their website code that AI web scraping was off limits. Wired said it discovered a "secret IP address" scraping the content in question that was "almost certainly linked" to Perplexity.

Srinivas responded to Wired's request for comment with a statement that said, "The questions from WIRED reflect a deep and fundamental misunderstanding of how Perplexity and the Internet work."

A spokesperson for Perplexity did not immediately respond to Business Insider's request for comment ahead of publication.

Read the original article on Business Insider