Another Reason to Return to Blogging- Meta AI

I’m sure you’re all tired of me harping about social media and my love/hate relationship with it. However, news has come out that will significantly impact how and when I share information on the social media platforms.

I understand that AI is now almost unavoidable if you’re online. However, it has been released that Meta is using public Facebook and Instagram content to train it’s AI models. Not just text- but also visual generators.

The terms of service have long been that any media you upload can be “owned” by them, however, most of us didn’t take it too seriously. The tradeoff for exposure, finding our audience and new friends, and advertising made it worth it. Besides, what were they going to do with a bunch of photos of old patterns and sewing and fashion history?

However, the new visual AI is a whole ‘nother ball game. There seems to be many different developers that have already been stealing images from artists in order to grow their bank and create derivative works. But something about them using photos of our faces, our children’s faces (if applicable), fine art, craft, photographs, locations, and more, is unsettling. This doesn’t just affect fine artists. This literally affects everyone (and affecting artists was bad enough).

AI is already starting to creep into sewing pattern markets as well- I know several pattern sellers (not personally) who are using AI models to make it seem they have made physical copies of their sewing patterns and have them on real models- which they haven’t. Unless you look closely at the hands you may never even realize it. Of course, the reviews for the patterns are shady as well. Patterns can already be generated by computer by plugging in coordinates and selecting styles. AI can do it for you and make it look like a higher ticket item with paid photographers and models, and with very little patternmaking experience (said sarcastically, but that’s the way of thinking).

Now, before I get some comments (as I’m sure I’ll get, either here or elsewhere, if anyone still reads blogs), let me plead my case to why this affects me even though I base many things on historical materials. I have devoted most of my adult life at this point to sourcing, researching, and understanding the technical intricacies of old patterns and historical primary source material. I well research to be SURE they are public domain before doing anything. And even then, the public domain materials are often highly flawed, sometimes requiring near complete redrafting to get them to actually work. It’s preserving a historical source while fixing things that have been wrong for decades (or a century).

Now, doing all that work and researching and investing so long in the study of historical dress and pattern cut from primary sources is much different than taking a computer image that was uploaded to a free platform, and then having that platform train it’s AI to pass off images that aren’t historically accurate as art. All for amusement of the general public, and as long as the public are entertained on their platform, they generate revenue from advertisement. Instagram no longer pays creators “bonuses”.

It passes of a modern generated image as fact. It discounts my work reworking, testing, restoring, and making things understandable and accessible- when often these old items use techniques that are all but forgotten. This is not simply tracing off something old and running a photocopy of an old envelope. Though even then, that does have it’s use in preserving and making history, in it’s original form, available where it is otherwise lost to decay. Both things are highly useful for historians and vintage enthusiasts to understand how clothing went together, how things were achieved, and how dressmaking evolved over decades (and centuries). I am friends with many other makers of “vintage” patterns, who all have their own approach and put *a ton* of work and effort into their products. Just because something was originally based on a public domain source it does not mean the end result of our efforts is public domain, as many historians in other areas of study very likely understand.

Likewise, with all the primary sources through catalogs and fashion magazines I have accumulated over the years. It takes an incredible amount of time to source, money to buy, time to scan, and knowledge to interpret historical fashion sources. Simply plugging a photo into AI is worlds different than training the mind to comprehend context and time frame through over twenty years of study.

In a way I’m angry that I invested so much time and energy into a platform that seemed to promote finding community, and in the end, the content I generated through my own expense and time made money for a large corporations while eventually making us all feel a little more isolated (or addicted, pick your poison). When we all joined we did not know AI was a thing. And now everything is already stored in their databases, I’m sure, whether we chose to delete content or not. The new algorithm means it’s harder than ever to even reach our audiences. Now they are using our content to train digital knowledge to generate images that they own. Nothing is ever truly free.

In any case, I’m still formulating what I will chose to do with this new information. I may simply do new product announcements (which won’t be many, since we are now on Summer break). In the meantime, I won’t be posting much public content on those platforms. I would hope that those who enjoy what I do can find me on here, on Etsy, and on my website. Just as it was before the move to social media apps.

In a way it’s good. Back to basics. Back to art. Back to a slower, simple life without visual overstimulation or the comparison game. If you’d like to read more you can find links below.

Sources:

Business Insider

BBC

Cnet- and how to opt out if you’re in Europe (in the USA we can’t)

How-To Geek Which does give options that may help in settings.

Yahoo News Canada

Follow up, one day later with more observations.

After some thought, one possible action for me could be utilizing my Wearing History Facebook page to link to blog posts that include product announcements, links to relevant articles about fashion history elsewhere on the web, etc. Facebook doesn’t have proprietary ownership of the linked content, so each site (including mine) still retains the image and information ownership. However, Meta knows this and purposefully has the algorithm trained to not give those posts much exposure (i.e. you may never see them in your feed).

Of course, I have been blogging enough to remember when other sites would simply “lift” entire articles and photos onto their scam sites or their business blogs. No information posted online is ever going to be free of some degree of that. I’m sure people are still feeding AI images gathered elsewhere online in unethical ways.

It is debatable whether putting up information on a blog and having it “lifted” without knowing is any better than the passive consent given under a social media app’s terms of service (which most people never read). However, those who do know the terms of service will upload images knowing they consent to that risk. Some creators may find the tradeoff for exposure or influencer income through collaborations or partnerships make it worth it for them. At present, I don’t find it worth it to me. I never was very comfortable showing my face in video (I tried it on Instagram and YouTube and cringed a bit. I suppose you get used to it the more you do it). I much prefer to focus on what my hands are doing in video, but admire those with more confidence in that regard.

In any case, I believe there is a way around it by using Facebook, at least, as a way to link information stored elsewhere. At this point in time, at least. We know in another few years things will be moving to another direction and we will say things like “Hey, remember when everyone was up in arms about Meta using images for AI?” I remember not that long ago we didn’t like videos, then adapted. We didn’t like vlogs on YouTube, then adapted. Left blogs for Facebook or Instagram pages. Left Livejournal for blogs because of it being bought out by a Russian company. It’s the cycle of online life.

Instagram has said it will be labeling images as “Made by AI”, but real life photographers are already having their real photographs being mislabeled, ironically enough, most likely by AI itself. So while they want to harvest your images for AI, your real, human creations may be mislabeled by the harvester. Source

Enough navel gazing. Have a wonderful summer, everyone!

P.S. I found it highly amusing that Instagram offered me a “Spring Bonus” for creating content the very same day I wrote this content, after disabling creator bonuses quite a while ago.

8 Comments on Another Reason to Return to Blogging- Meta AI

  1. Vanessa
    June 17, 2024 at 11:19 am (1 month ago)

    Totally Agree! Rethinking all my social media posts as well, how is AI not theft?! Looking forward to getting your blog post updates, Thank You!

    Reply
    • Lauren
      June 18, 2024 at 10:49 am (1 month ago)

      I’m glad it’s not only me! It’s given us a lot to think about!

      Reply
  2. Nicole
    June 18, 2024 at 8:02 pm (1 month ago)

    I am continually baffled by the many people who see no problems with AI and just think it’s “fun” and “useful” and don’t want to see the real, serious problems with it. Even if it was benign and no one was facing any consequences, like you are, it’s annoying to see all these AI generated images. Pinterest is overloaded with them and it’s frustrating to say the least. :(

    Reply
  3. Natalie
    June 19, 2024 at 5:51 pm (4 weeks ago)

    Gee, have long very much enjoyed your blog and never left the blog world as it’s better for long-form research writing, but am becoming nervous that AI will intrude there. That would be a sad loss, indeed.

    Meantime, what Meta is doing is rank theft of our lives and livelihoods. Was already so concerned with FB’s tone several years ago that I deleted everything and left, though now I maintain an empty profile so I can check sewing groups once in a while.

    I sure wish Ravelry would offer more in the sewing line…that’s one spot I still feel comfortable, although haven’t been active in some time.

    Very best,
    Natalie in KY

    Reply
    • Lauren
      June 25, 2024 at 8:46 pm (3 weeks ago)

      I completely agree with you, and the more outside it I become the more I realize how it breeds unhealthy thoughts and patterns. If someone said “you need to create a login and allow us to track you to browse more than just a snippet of this website”, people, in general, would be furious! But they’ve created the stigma that you’re “missing out” because “everybody has one”. It’s really quite frightening, when you think about it.
      My growth on the platform dwindled when they changed the algorithm to be randomly selected instead of chronological. And then it’s just been the slow march of decline since then. The AI update really seals the deal.

      I agree with you that I wish there was a sewing Ravelry! I heard there’s one that’s in trial stages (I forget the name), but hopefully that takes off!

      Reply
    • Lauren
      June 25, 2024 at 8:47 pm (3 weeks ago)

      Do you have any suggestions for blogs I should follow or a good blog reader? It seems so few of the ones I used to follow still post!

      Reply
  4. Silke
    June 20, 2024 at 11:22 am (4 weeks ago)

    Whenever new tech enters the world, it is important to regulate the use. For this it is essential to do, what you do here. You don’t have to take it, fight for your right.
    Thank you very much! You are an impotant part of the democratic process.

    Reply
    • Lauren
      June 25, 2024 at 8:42 pm (3 weeks ago)

      I love this way of thinking! Democracy in action :)

      Reply

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