The editor of a magazine that published a hugely controversial story with fake quotes from Michael Schumacher has been sacked.
Anne Hoffman sparked outrage when the German publication Die Aktuelle used artificial intelligence to generate a mock-up interview with the seven-time Formula 1 champion.
Schumacher has not been seen in public for more than nine years since he suffered severe head injuries in a skiing accident in December 2013.
But last week the magazine slapped a headline on its front page below a picture of Schumacher smiling, which read: ‘Michael Schumacher, the first interview.’
Underneath, a strapline read ‘it sounds deceptively real’ and the story itself was based entirely on the fake quotes created using an AI app called character.ai, reports BBC Sport.
The AI-generated quotes read: ‘I can with the help of my team actually stand by myself and even slowly walk a few steps.
‘My wife and my children were a blessing to me and without them I would not have managed it. Naturally they are also very sad, how it has all happened.
‘They support me and are standing firmly at my side.’
The 54-year-old’s family have stringently protected his privacy since the accident in the French Alps.
They said they now plan to take legal action against the magazine.
Bianca Pohlmann, director of the Funke magazine group, has apologised to the family and confirmed it is parting ways with editor-in-chief Anne Hoffmann with immediate effect.
She said on Friday: ‘This tasteless and misleading article should never have appeared.
’It in no way corresponds to the standards of journalism that we – and our readers – expect from a publisher like Funke.
‘As a result of the publication of this article, personal consequences will be drawn immediately.
‘Die Aktuelle editor-in-chief Anne Hoffmann, who has been responsible for journalism for the newspaper since 2009, will be relieved of her duties as of today.’
In an emotional Netflix documentary about the legendary driver in 2021, his wife Corinna made it very clear they take protecting Michael’s privacy extremely seriously.
She said at the time: ‘We try to carry on a family as Michael liked it and still does. And we are getting on with our lives. “Private is private,” as he always said.
‘It is very important to me that he can continue to enjoy his private life as much as possible.
‘Michael always protected us, and now we are protecting Michael.’
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