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Social Media and the AI threat

pink desktop with a white keyboard and stationery items and a phone with Home Cyn Home's mint and pink tigers

Unless you've been of the grid, chances are you heard about social media and the AI threat it poses to artists in the past few weeks. Heck if you are a creative and artist yourself, you probably have at least reconsidered what you share on Instagram, or made a move to Cara ( or have been wondering if it is worth migrating). For many of us artists, the AI threat is getting more real and is starting to strike a little too close to home, forcing us to reconsider several things, including our marketing strategy which quite frankly was already an ordeal thanks to Instagram's ever changing algorithm. So what is the new social media threat? I'm glad you asked! Meta, the group that englobes Facebook, Instagram and Threads has announced that they will use content posted publicly by users on their platforms to train their AI model and in most countries will do so WITHOUT your consent, or even allowing you to opt out. As I type this, the only users who can opt out of having their words and images used are those living in the European Union, and even then, they are made to jump through hoops to get that one basic copyright honored.

Living in India, I don't even have the option to opt out or anything, Meta can and probably is using all the content I have been posting on Instagram to train their AI model. It's something that as an artist I find HUGELY problematic, like many artists do. Why? Because this means it can give birth to an AI image generator that can create images in your style that anyone will use as their own, with the original artist not being compensated for having their work used to train said AI in the first place.

The rise of AI "art" (don't be fooled it's not art) has been concerning for a year and a half or so and has already pushed several PoD platforms to act on it and enforce fees on artists in an effort to keep the bogus "AI artists" off their platforms. A federal court in the US has ruled that AI art cannot be copyrighted and nobody can claim ownership of a work generated by an AI because copyrights is a privilege only a human creator can enjoy, not a machine. The EU has drafted the first set of laws to regulate the use of AI in what is called the AI act which is why Meta has been forced to comply and offer EU users an "opt out" option. At this point, we quite frankly need worldwide regulations for AI and its applications, INCLUDING images generated by an AI and how AI is trained. Unfortunately, it seems people don't quite understand the urgency, or what the big deal is, because they still don't really understand art as a CAREER. How many of us artists have been told "Get a real job" like spending hours to create illustrations and elements that can be printed as a pattern isn't a job but a fun hobby?

Home Cyn Home pink flamingo design on a Society6 Apple watch band

How many still believe the starving artist myth is a reality that artist must content themselves with? How many of you reading this post have had dreams of being in a creative field as a child but where pushed by your parents toward a more "sensible" career choice?

How many of you purchase items with designs printed on them without thinking about the work that went into creating that design or wether or not the artists/designer got paid? The sad sad truth is that there is very little awareness about what it is that artists do. People are still stuck with this romantic idea of an artist painting flowers and landscapes on a canvas with oil painting and trying to make ends meet selling their paintings for food and never really get much recognition if any while we are alive...thank Van Gogh for that! The truth is that artists are part of a huge career field and you'd be hard pressed to find anything in your daily life that hasn't had an artist or designer involved in the process. All your tech gadgets were first designed by a concept artist and then a tech team went on trying to make it happen. There isn't a movie out there that hasn't a team dedicated to CGI special effects and animation artists. But did you know that there also are artists working behind the scene on elements you will never directly see in the movie? Like storyboard artists? And all the work of concept artists and costume designers who worked months on ideas for props, sets and costumes? We artists are everywhere and the job we do mean your home and life are a little bit less boring, you could be drinking out of a boring white coffee mug and it would still hold your coffee just fine. Drinking your morning cup out of a cute mug with fun colors and a sassy quote is something that should come as a bonus, it's a privilege you should pay for.

Home Cyn Home's mint and pink sunglasses design on a Society6 water bottle

So! Where does that left us? How do we go about the future? As an artist I am for one really rethinking my marketing strategy and what I share on Facebook and Instagram. I've noticed in the past few months that posts like flat illustration or pattern swatches get more reach than product mockups and finished products like that water bottle on the left. It's clear that Instagram was trying to incentivise me to post more content they can really use to train the Meta AI. Knowing what I know now, I decided to stop posting too clearly usable images on Insta and focus on product mockups and behind the scene snapshots of my life as an artist. Some artists have been using the softwares Glaze and Nightshade to render their images unusable by AI models. I tried making Glaze work but it kept crashing.

I decided to reserve the art content for Cara where they aren't training an AI model with it and for my Patreons. I have been posting a lot more content that is free to read if you sign up as a free member and a few more public posts (viewable by all).I know some artists who've been working on growing their email lists, and quite frankly it's something I have always been struggling with. I'm also not really good at writing newsletters and I know half of the ones I subscribed to has gone unread. I'm more a fan of interaction with my followers which was what was great with Instagram before they decided to only show my posts to 10-15 of them.So I'm hoping we can get that sense of community back on Patreon somehow. One thing has become clear, the AI threat is real and if people don't start questioning it and asking for regulations we are going to end up with a completely out of control tools. The SAG - AFTRA strike last year was just the beginning. People, we artists need you! Believe in us, support us, say no to AI "art" (again it's not art), spread the word, help us advocate.

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