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AI Copywriting and Content Writing: 5 Ethical Considerations

Updated: Dec 7, 2023

Discover 5 key ethical considerations to take when working with AI copywriting tools and exactly how I use AI assistance in my writing process.



Typewriter image and text 'AI copywriting ethical considerations'


AI copywriting tools have taken the world by storm, promising fast, engaging, and targeted copy and content - but is it ethical? And will it ever replace human writers?


I dive into 8 key things to consider when working with AI copywriting tools, and outline exactly how I use AI assistance tools in my writing process.

(Hint: not a lot)


Phew, it’s a heavy one – let’s get to it!


Contents


AI Copywriting: Evolving with the industry


pink background and text 'the industry will change, and you will have to change with it'


Whatever industry you work in, whether you’re a taxi driver, chef, or accountant, one thing will always be true: the industry will change, and you will have to change with it. To evolve, you need be up to date on the latest developments and open to the new technologies your competitors are using.


For writers, it’s no different. Otherwise, we’d still be scribbling things down with a quill or tapping away at a typewriter.


The latest industry development – one you’ve no doubt heard about – is AI copywriting tools. These tools assist with anything from generating ideas and editing drafts, to writing complete ad copy and long-form blog content.


As with most new technologies, they’ve caused a stir.


Are robots taking over?

Is anything we read going to be authentic anymore?

Are we nearing the death of human creativity?


Though controversial, the tools are not going away any time soon. And whether you choose to embrace them or not, others will.


I’m not going to let the robots ‘take over’, but equally, I’m not going to be the writer stubbornly dipping their quill in an inkpot whilst others are speeding ahead with biros. I’m going to keep learning about the benefits and downfalls of the tools and use them to my advantage.


In a previous post, I discussed how, even with the use of AI tools, copywriters are still needed. In this post, I dive deeper into why human writers not only provide value beyond AI tools but are necessary for the ethical use of AI copywriting tools.


With these ethical considerations in mind, I’ve created a thorough plan of how I’ll incorporate some of these tools in my working process, transparently and effectively.


The ethics of AI copywriting: 5 things to consider

My conscious copywriting ethos is at the core of every project I take on and every piece of work I deliver. That’s why I made understanding the ethics of AI copywriting a priority.


I’ve found 5 main ethical issues with using AI copywriting tools. Before I go into the details on each one, here’s my overall take: AI can be used ethically if it’s considered an additional tool, employed only at the initial or final stages, by a skilled writer.



pink background and text 'human writers not only provide value beyond ai tools but are necessary for the ethical use of ai copywriting tools'

1. Accuracy


On a previous project editing AI-produced content to rectify the tone of voice, I ended up spending most of my time correcting inaccurate information instead.


The content referred to studies and statistics I was unable to find anywhere online. And I mean, ANYWHERE. I had to find alternative studies I could properly assess and reference.


AI copywriting tools often make general statements, referring to studies without considering how recent they are, the number of participants, and whether they provide solid evidence for the claim being made. Without proper fact-checking, you could spread inaccurate information.


2. Bias and inclusivity


AI doesn’t have its own moral compass. If it’s trained on data that’s biased and undiverse, then the output will likely perpetuate prejudices and lack inclusivity. Without a proper overview, it could go unnoticed.


It also lacks the nuanced thinking to go beyond stereotypes. It won’t recognise that just because your product/service tends to attract a certain audience, your copy/content will be read by people of different genders, ethnicities, backgrounds, and abilities who all deserve to feel included.


Read More:


3. Empathy


A skilled writer can translate feelings into words, to recreate them in the reader. Here’s where AI is at a disadvantage: it doesn’t have feelings.


AI lacks the empathy that allows human writers to connect with their audience on a deeper level. For sensitive topics, it creates a cold and uneasy feeling of being given advice from something that will have never been where you’ve been.


Spirituality, wellness, health, self-development, and emotional well-being – do we really want artificial emotions in these spheres? These areas demand authenticity and a human touch, not cold and generic content.


4. Nuanced thinking and creativity


Under the umbrella ‘of nuanced thinking’, I’m grouping multiple traits humans have that AI lacks: contextual awareness, language subtilities, intuition, common sense, and creativity.


These factors allow us to delve into more complex topics, create subtle messages, and trigger specific ideas and emotions, that AI can’t.


It’s also these factors that distinguish brands built with a soul and story, from larger ‘cold’ corporations. Put differently, a poetic, free-spirited, and earthy tone of voice could be the reason someone chooses to buy a product from your business rather than, say, Amazon.



5. Originality and impact


AI content is, by its very nature, unoriginal. It’s programmed to know what word should go after what word. No matter how articulate and well-written it sounds, it’s the same generic arguments, phrases, and narratives, written in a new way.


In terms of ethics, it stifles the impact you can make with your messaging. Old ideas won’t do anything new. It’s content for the sake of content.


Take health and wellness brands, for example. As I state on my home page, the industry has a bad reputation when it comes to its messaging. You have diet culture, fads, and false claims galore. If that’s the data that already exists, it’s going to feed the output you get.


How can you make an impact as a brand, where the messaging you’re putting out there is a regurgitated version of what already exists? To create change in the industry, rebuild trust, and innovate, you need originality in your messaging. AIs not designed for change-makers.


On a legal note, AI constantly runs into issues with plagiarism. It uses large amounts of data to generate content which, inadvertently, could infringe on someone’s copyrighted work, trademarks, or private information.



pink background and text 'ai isn't designed for changemakers. It is, by it's very nature, unoriginal'.

How I use AI copywriting tools in my work


At this point, you’ve probably already grasped that I think ai copywriting tools can be problematic, and I don’t see them replacing human writers any time soon.


That’s not to say I don’t think they’re useful at all. Used ethically and sparingly, I think they can enhance the authentic and creative work of human writers.


(Please note: if ai is a complete no go for you, and you’d like me to steer clear from it at every stage, I am more than happy to. This is something we can discuss during onboarding).


pink background and text 'ai can be used ethically if it's considered an additional tool employed by a skilled writer'


1. Generating content ideas

I may use a combination of AI tools to generate SEO-friendly content ideas suited to your targeted audience.


2. SEO meta-tag ideas

I may use AI tools to generate SEO-optimised meta title and meta tag ideas.


3. Editing AI written content

I offer an editing and polishing service. I don’t question who (or what) wrote the content, my job is just to edit it to suit your tone of voice. If you already have content written by AI, I’m happy to work with it.


4. Finding alternative words and phrasing

I may use AI tools to generate a list of synonyms or alternative phrasing as a creative ‘springboard’ to refine the tone of voice.


5. Proof-reading

Alongside Grammarly, I may use AI tools as an additional pair of eyes on my work, to assess my tone and clarity.


6. I’ll always keep you in the loop

If I chose to use AI more than this, I’ll update this post and inform you.


Final Thoughts: Is AI Copywriting Ethical?


Ultimately, I think AI copywriting can be used ethically. But the verb ‘used’ is key here.


AI shouldn’t be it be left to its own devices to create huge chunks of un-checked copy and content. It should be used by a skilled writer as a new tool to assist in the writing process. Much like biros, typewriters, the internet, and Grammarly, have done before it.


Hopefully, my research and personal ‘terms of use’ have shown it’s possible to balance the benefits of new technology, with authenticity, creativity, and transparency. That is, when human writers are valued for their role in ensuring content stays ethical and true to a brand’s tone of voice.


I will amend this post as AI copywriting continues to change and develop.


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