Artists and Photographers Bemoan There is No Way to Opt Out of Meta’s AI


After Meta announced that its new artificial intelligence (AI) models were trained on public Instagram and Facebook posts; it began allowing people to “opt-out” of the training data.

However, photographers and artists have alleged that the data deletion request process is a “fake PR stunt,” according to a Wired article and Meta have stressed that the form is only relevant to “third parties.”

In practice, creators with first-hand knowledge say there is no functional way to opt out of Meta’s generative AI training.

A Romanian photographer and digital artist, Mihaela Voicu, tells Wired that she has tried to request data deletion twice using Meta’s form and says the process feels like “a bad joke.”

“It’s not actually intended to help people,” she says after receiving the “unable to process request” message.

Wired says it heard from over a dozen artists who received the boilerplate message, including Bethany Berg, a Colorado-based conceptual artist.

“I started to feel like it was just a fake PR stunt to make it look like they were actually trying to do something,” she tells the technology publication.

Meta has not disclosed the specifics of the third-party data its models have been trained on, making it difficult for users to know if their data has been used.

Meta says that the data deletion request form is not an opt-out tool and that any data on its own platforms, e.g. Facebook and Instagram, is fair game for AI training.

“I think there is some confusion about what that form is and the controls we offer,” Meta spokesperson Thomas Richards tells Wired. “We don’t currently offer a feature for people to opt out of their information from our products and services being used to train our AI models.”

It is unlikely that Meta has trained its AI models on data exclusively from Facebook and Instagram. It’s possible it has used datasets such as the Laion-5B — but nobody knows for sure.

“For slightly more context on the request form, depending on where people live, they may be able to exercise their data subject rights and object to certain third-party information being used to train our AI models,” adds Richards.

“Submitting a request doesn’t mean that your third-party information will be automatically removed from our AI training models. We’re reviewing requests in accordance with local laws, as different jurisdictions have different requirements. I don’t have more details though on the process.”

The Meta spokesperson notes that the company does not have future plans for an opt-out program.

Image credits: Header photo licensed via Depositphotos.