The editor-in-chief of Die Aktuelle, a German magazine that published a fake artificial intelligence (AI) interview with Michael Schumacher, has been “relieved of her duties,” a statement from publishing house FUNKE said, alongside an apology to the Schumacher family.
Anne Hoffmann had overseen the weekly German magazine since 2009, the statement added.
The publishing house’s response comes after the family of seven-time Formula One champion Schumacher said on Thursday that it was planning legal action against the magazine.
Schumacher has not been seen in public since he suffered a brain injury in a skiing accident in December 2013.
“This tasteless and misleading article should never have appeared. It in no way meets the standards of journalism that we – and our readers – expect from a publishing house like FUNKE,” FUNKE magazine managing director Bianca Pohlmann said in the statement.
On April 15, Die Aktuelle published a smiling picture of the 54-year-old on the front cover with the headline: “Michael Schumacher, the first interview,” and a subheading that reads: “It sounded deceptively real.”
The fake interview appears on page eight of the magazine with the headline, “My life has changed completely,” and includes fictitious quotes attributed to Schumacher, discussing his family life since the accident and his medical condition.
Only toward the end of the article does it become apparent that the interview was produced by AI.
Since the accident, the Schumacher family has kept updates about the health of the motorsport legend to a minimum to protect their privacy.
In September 2021, Corinna Schumacher discussed her husband’s condition in a Netflix documentary about his Formula One career.
“He still shows me how strong he is every day,” she said at the time.
“We live together at home. We do therapy. We do everything we can to make Michael better and to make sure he’s comfortable. And to simply make him feel our family, our bond.
“And no matter what, I will do everything I can. We all will. We’re trying to carry on as a family, the way Michael liked it and still does. And we are getting on with our lives.
“‘Private is private,’ as he always said. It’s 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.”