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Meta’s new AI image generator was trained on 1.1 billion Instagram and Facebook photos

Enlarge / Three images generated by “Imagine with Meta AI” using the Emu AI model. (credit: Meta | Benj Edwards)

On Wednesday, Meta released a free standalone AI image generator website, “Imagine with Meta AI,” based on its Emu image synthesis model. Meta used 1.1 billion publicly visible Facebook and Instagram images to train the AI model, which can render a novel image from a written prompt. Previously, Meta’s version of this technology—using the same data—was only available in messaging and social networking apps such as Instagram.

If you’re on Facebook or Instagram, it’s quite possible a picture of you (or that you took) helped train Emu. In a way, the old saying, “If you’re not paying for it, you are the product” has taken on a whole new meaning. Although, as of 2016, Instagram users uploaded over 95 million photos a day, so the dataset Meta used to train its AI model was a small subset of its overall photo library.

Since Meta says it only uses publicly available photos for training, setting your photos private on Instagram or Facebook should prevent their inclusion in the company’s future AI model training (unless it changes that policy, of course).

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