The Irish Times has apologized after publishing an opinion piece claiming that "Irish women's obsession with fake tan is problematic" that was submitted by a hoaxer using artificial intelligence.

The piece, which was the second-most-read story on the Irish Times website after it was published on Thursday, was removed on Friday on the basis that it "may not have been genuine".

The article, which provoked significant comment and controversy before its removal, was written by a woman named Adriana Acosta-Cortez, who claimed to be a 29-year-old Ecuadorian healthcare worker living in Dublin. 

The article was removed after readers claimed that the image of Acosta-Cortez was an AI-generated image. There were also concerns that the article was written by AI. 

The Irish Times has since confirmed that the article was submitted by a hoax account in "a deliberate and coordinated deception". 

"It was a breach of the trust between the Irish Times and its readers, and we are genuinely sorry. The incident has highlighted a gap in our pre-publication procedures," Irish Times editor Ruadhán Mac Cormaic said in a statement. 

"We need to make them more robust, and we will. It has also underlined one of the challenges raised by generative AI for news organizations. We, like others, will learn and adapt."  

The now-deleted article claimed that Irish women's "widespread use of fake tanning products" amounted to cultural appropriation and was at odds with Ireland's "progressive" image. 

"To me, fake tan represents more than just an innocuous cosmetic choice; it raises questions of cultural appropriation and fetishization of the high melanin content found in more pigmented people," the article stated. 

The article added that fake tan allowed Irish women to enjoy a "fleeting taste of a more exotic identity" without facing the "obstacles" faced by people of color. 

Acosta-Cortez claimed to come from "a strict Catholic family" in Ecuador, adding that she moved to Ireland in 2015 around the same time that Ireland voted to legalize same-sex marriage. 

A Twitter account using Acosta-Cortez's name criticized the Irish Times for running the article the day after it was published. 

"Genuinely sad that a once respectable news source has degraded themselves with such divisive tripe in order to generate clicks and traffic for their website. You need a better screening process than a believable Gmail address," the account said on Friday.