Instagram’s ‘Made With AI’ Tag is Inaccurate, Misleading, and Needs to Go

A person stands on a vast reflective surface at sunset, creating the illusion of walking on water. The sky is vibrant with deep shades of purple, pink, and orange. Bright, circular light trails surround them, and distant stars are visible in the twilight sky.
Eric Paré’s stunning photograph was given a “Made with AI” tag by Instagram yesterday.

Photographers uploading their work to Instagram are finding “Made With AI” tags attached to images that were not computer-generated.

The AI label undermines the photographer, suggesting they have somehow contrived the image by using a controversial generative AI program like Midjourney.

Take Eric Paré, whose fantastical light painting images taken on the Uyuni Salt Flats in Bolivia fell foul of Instagram’s AI detector yesterday despite Paré also sharing a photo of the back of his camera showing clearly that the photo is not AI-generated.

A close-up of a digital camera on a tripod, focusing on a sunset scene displayed on its screen. A bright light source is visible behind the camera, creating a reflective glow on the red surface beneath.

A person in a white dress stands on a reflective surface with a vivid sunset and starry sky in the background. They hold a light behind them, creating a circular glow. The caption reads: "ericparephoto, 28s, Made with AI".

This type of otherworldly image is particularly sensitive to accusations of AI generation and it is of vital importance to creatives like Paré that the audience knows they are looking at the work of a photographer who has busted a gut to get a great shot.

Paré told me that the photos had gone through an AI denoise program (taking noise out of an image is a normal editing task and definitely does not mean it was “Made with AI”).

Tellingly, when Paré screenshotted the images, Instagram did not tag them as AI. This runs consistent with my findings earlier this week when I used Photoshop’s Generative Fill tool to remove a speck of dust which got my photo flagged as AI on Instagram. But when I copied and pasted that same image onto a new document, it got past the censors.

The fact this workaround is viable shows that Meta is not only very likely looking for the Content Credentials tags that are embedded in an image when it is processed with Adobe Photoshop but it is also missing the point entirely of the reason these Credentials exist in the first place. They were never designed to be distilled down to a blanket statement like “Made with AI” like this. It’s overly reductive and does a disservice to the creator of the image and the overall mission of the Content Authenticity Initiative (CAI).


What is truly absurd about this new “Made with AI” tag is that it’s so arbitrary. Say a photographer is removing a trash can from an image in Photoshop: they can use the Content-Aware Fill Tool which will not trigger the AI label but if they use the Generative Fill Tool then it will appear.

A woman in a flowing white dress and a man in dark clothes stand on a shining wet surface under a vivid red and orange sunset. The woman holds a circular array of bright lights, creating a radiant backdrop. Their reflections are visible in the water below them.

As Tony Northrup commented in my previous article, nobody cares which tool you use when the end result is exactly the same. For a photographer’s work to be tarnished over something as inconsequential as which spot removal application they used in Photoshop is ridiculous.

AI is an existential threat to photography and the fact that Instagram, arguably photography’s most important platform, is weakening photographers’ authenticity by attaching AI tags willy-nilly is insulting and outrageous.

Instagram’s parent company Meta has not released details on how it detects if an image is AI but, as mentioned, it is safe to assume that it uses some of the Content Credentials infrastructure. Meta isn’t a published member of the CAI, so the fact it is using the technology but is not involved with the group is further evidence that it isn’t in tune with the mission of the organization.

Perhaps the only way to solve this is for Meta to join Content Credentials and until then, please stop sabotaging photographers with this silliness.

Image credits: Photographs by Eric Paré