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X launches Stories, delivering news summarized by Grok AI

X, formerly Twitter, is now using Elon Musk’s AI chatbot Grok to power a feature that summarizes the personalized trending stories in the app’s Explore section. According to an announcement and screenshots posted by the X Engineering team on Friday, X’s Premium subscribers will be able to read a summary of posts on X associated with each trending story featured on the For You tab in Explore.

The For You page showcases the news and stories being shared across X’s platform that are popular within your network, along with other suggested items. It’s among the first stops for X users who want to catch up with what’s being said on the platform, without having to spend long amounts of time scrolling their timeline.

For instance, a TechCrunch reader’s For You page today may feature stories about Apple’s coming iPad event, Microsoft’s security overhaul, and burnout among AI engineers. As you tap into each story to view the associated X posts, a summary of the story will now appear at the top of the page, offering an overview of the subject matter.

In the case of the AI burnout story, for example, the Grok-powered summary begins: “AI engineers are facing burnout and rushed rollouts due to the competitive race in the tech industry, as companies prioritize investor satisfaction over solving actual problems.” After briefly touching on the problem of the AI “rat race,” the story concludes by saying that “critics argue that proper safeguards and thoughtful innovation should not be afterthoughts in the pursuit of AI investments …”

Humorously, a message appears below that summary, warning: “Grok can make mistakes, verify its outputs.”

The idea of summarizing trends is not a new one, but it is new in terms of how the summaries are being handled. Under its prior leadership, Twitter began adding headlines and descriptions to its trends in 2020, though not with the help of an AI bot. Instead, Twitter itself would annotate some of its daily trends with extra information and pin a representative tweet to provide further context. However, Twitter’s rollout was haphazard, with some trends getting written up and others not.

With Grok’s Stories, as the summaries are called, all the top news on the For You page is summarized.

Access to xAI’s chatbot Grok is meant to be a selling point to push users to buy premium subscriptions. With the Premium and top-tier Premium+ plans, users can access Grok by tapping on the bottom middle button of the app. A snarky and “rebellious” AI, Grok’s differentiator from other AI chatbots like ChatGPT is its exclusive and real-time access to X data.

A post published to X on Friday by tech journalist Alex Kantrowitz lays out Elon Musk’s further plan for AI-powered news on X, based on an email conversation with the X owner.

Kantrowitz says that conversations on X will make up the core of Grok’s summaries. Grok won’t look at the article text, in other words, even if that’s what people are discussing on the platform. That could be a problem in terms of painting a true picture of the news being shared, as what people are chattering about on X may be their reactions or opinions, not the news itself. Kantrowitz calls the move “controversial” but admits there’s opportunity there.

Journalists are already having to contend with AI news summaries in other areas as well, including from startups. For example, Arc’s new web browser includes an AI summary feature and former Twitter engineers are building an AI news summary service called Particle. How this will play out in terms of traffic to the news sites themselves remains to be seen. Kantrowitz believes that users may be interested in going “deeper into the source material once their curiosity is piqued,” he writes. But it’s also likely that at least some news sites will go out of business as page views drop due to AI summaries, leaving fewer sources for AI bots like Grok to summarize in the long run.

For that reason, some news publishers are doing deals with AI providers like OpenAI’s recently announced partnership with the FT. Others, such as Axel Springer, the AP, and Le Monde, have also announced similar moves. In X’s case, it’s able to get at the news by way of the conversation around it — and without having to partner to access the news content itself. That’s both clever and worrisome, the latter from a misinformation standpoint.

Grok’s Stories are rolling out to Premium X subscribers now. Access to Premium starts at $8 per month, if paying on the web and not through the app stores.

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