Artists Abandon Instagram for Cara Amid Meta AI Scraping Controversy

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Split screen with Instagram logo fading and Cara app logo emerging, symbolizing artists' migration due to AI scraping issues.

In a significant shift, artists are leaving Instagram in droves to join Cara, a new portfolio app, in protest against Meta’s use of their work to train AI models. This exodus highlights growing tensions between creators and tech companies over the use of publicly shared content for AI training purposes.

Key Takeaways

  • Artists are leaving Instagram to prevent Meta from using their work to train AI models.
  • Cara, a new portfolio app, has seen a massive surge in users, growing from 40,000 to 650,000 in a week.
  • Meta’s AI scraping policy has sparked multiple lawsuits from artists and other creators.
  • Cara offers features specifically designed to protect artists’ work from AI scraping.

The Exodus to Cara

For years, Instagram has been a go-to platform for painters, photographers, and other visual artists to showcase their portfolios and gain visibility. However, many artists are now abandoning the platform to prevent Meta, Instagram’s parent company, from using their art to train AI models. This mass migration has led to a significant increase in users for Cara, a portfolio app that bans AI posts and training.

Cara’s founder, Jingna Zhang, reported that the app’s user base skyrocketed from 40,000 to 650,000 in just one week. The app even reached the fifth spot on Apple’s most-downloaded social apps list. Despite the overwhelming interest causing multiple crashes, the app continues to attract artists seeking a safer space for their work.

Growing Tensions Between Creators and AI Companies

The tension between online creators and AI companies is escalating. Almost everything posted publicly on the internet is considered fair game for AI training, which has the potential to replace the very people who created the training data. Artists feel particularly vulnerable as they need platforms like Instagram to market themselves but can’t prevent their work from becoming fodder for AI.

Artists, including Zhang, have filed multiple lawsuits against AI companies like Google and Stability AI, accusing them of using copyrighted material without consent. Authors and publishers, including George R.R. Martin and the New York Times, have filed similar suits. These companies argue that the training material falls under “fair use” laws, but creators are not convinced.

Cara’s Unique Features and Protections

Cara offers several features designed to protect artists from AI scraping. The app automatically implements “NoAI” tags on all posts, intended to discourage AI scrapers. While not foolproof, these tags are a first step in creating a space that respects artists’ rights. Cara also uses detection technology from AI company Hive to scan for rule-breakers and labels each uploaded image with a “NoAI” tag.

Additionally, Cara partners with the University of Chicago’s Glaze project, which helps protect artists’ work from AI mimicry. The app also plans to implement Nightshade, another tool from the University of Chicago, to further safeguard artwork against AI scrapers.

The Impact on Artists’ Livelihoods

The rise of AI-generated images has already affected many artists’ incomes. For instance, Kelly McKernan, an artist and illustrator from Nashville, saw their income drop by 30% from 2022 to 2023 due to the proliferation of AI-generated images. McKernan is now suing AI companies, including Midjourney and Stability AI, over the use of their work without consent.

Artists like Allie Sullberg and Jon Lam have also expressed their frustration with Meta’s AI policies. Sullberg downloaded the Cara app after seeing many of her artist friends switch, while Lam spent hours trying to find a way to opt out of AI scraping on Instagram, only to discover that the option was only available to European users.

The Future of Cara and Artist Protections

Cara’s rapid growth has not been without challenges. The app is still in development and has faced multiple crashes due to the sudden influx of users. Despite these hurdles, the app’s commitment to protecting artists’ work has resonated with the creative community.

Zhang has not sought venture funding for Cara, preferring to keep the app independent and focused on artists’ needs. The next few weeks will be crucial for the app’s future, but for now, it offers a glimmer of hope for artists seeking to protect their work from AI exploitation.

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