Indie blog ‘The Hairpin’ transformed, blossomed into AI clickbait mecca.

January 26, 2024
1 min read

In 2018, the indie women’s website The Hairpin stopped publishing, along with its sister site The Awl. This year, The Hairpin has been Frankensteined back into existence and stuffed with slapdash AI-generated articles designed to attract search engine traffic.

Some original articles remain but have been reformatted in a strange way, and the authors’ bylines have been replaced by generic male names of people who do not appear to exist.

The Hairpin’s new owner—a Serbian DJ named Nebojša Vujinović Vujo—says the site is just the latest title in his stable of over 2,000 websites and admits that the majority of the new posts on The Hairpin are indeed AI-generated.

Vujinović Vujo was able to purchase The Hairpin because its original owners let its domain expire. Choire Sicha, one of those former owners, accepts responsibility for this and suggests that other distressed media properties need to prioritize estate planning to avoid having their domains purchased by people such as Vujinović Vujo.

The Hairpin’s original human staffers are understandably disturbed by the site’s fate, and some of them expressed their concerns over the loss of the site’s archive. However, Vujinović Vujo claims that he plans to restore the archives eventually.

People working within the AI world agree that the rise of AI-generated clickbait articles is likely to continue in the future as more expired domains are bought

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