Disturbing AI Images of Children Found for Sale on Shutterstock

Disturbing, sexually suggestive AI images of children were available to purchase on the Shutterstock photo website, PetaPixel has exclusively learned.

A horrifying image of a young girl with “cumslut” written on her forehead was listed on the stock photo website accompanied by the text prompt that created the image. Other images showed other AI-generated children with the same word scrawled on their foreheads.

A set of even more disturbing images showed young girls looking into the camera while what appears to be an adult’s finger is seen in their mouths.

The author was listed as Shutterstock AI meaning the images were generated on its AI image generator. Shutterstock does not allow AI images generated elsewhere to be submitted.

A note on the page warns, “Shutterstock does not review AI-generated content for compliance with Shutterstock’s content compliance standards.” Adding that users must not generate imagery that is “false, misleading, deceptive, harmful, or violent.”

Shutterstock’s Q&A section for its AI image generator reads, “We have safeguards in place to avoid the creation of harmful, violent, deceptive, or other malicious material. That said, this technology is still in beta mode and we don’t always get it right.”

Shutterstock Has Removed the Images

After PetaPixel flagged the images, a Shutterstock spokesperson said, “In terms of our process for AI-generated images, when we identify or are notified of questionable images generated on our platform, in a case such as this, we escalate for immediate removal.”

“Shutterstock’s multi-layered content controls help to prevent the creation of content that displays adult themes, offensive themes or violence. It appears this specific set of offensive content was generated all by one user who attempted to exploit our AI image generator using very carefully selected wording prompts to get around our safeguards,” they continue.

“We have identified the user and suspended their account indefinitely. We have also added those prompts to our safety blocklist to ensure similar image types can no longer be generated on our platform.

“While we pride ourselves in being one of, if not the most comprehensive, diverse, and safe content marketplace, the advent of AIGEN technology has created isolated instances of bad actors leveraging the technology to create content that may violate our standards.

“We will continue to actively identify and remove such content, and appreciate the thoughtfulness of those who also bring it to our attention when you see it.”

Shutterstock’s AI image generator is powered by “a combination of OpenAI’s DALL-E and LG’s EXAONE technology, which were both trained using datasets licensed from Shutterstock,” according to the company.

Recently, Shutterstock teamed up with the United Nation’s AI for Good initiative to launch an AI image contest. The stock photo company claims that its AI image generator was “ethically created” and it offers full indemnification to customers protecting them from potential claims against the use of the images.

But clearly, there are still issues with its AI image generator producing inappropriate content. A problem that other generative AI models face as well.

Update: The original version of this article contained screenshots from Shutterstock’s website showing the disturbing images being offered for sale. We heard the feedback from readers that their inclusion was unnecessary and offensive. Thank you to everyone who let us know. We have since removed the screenshots and apologize for their original inclusion.