Meta’s new era: AI image labelling on social media platforms

Category: AI Americas Regulatory

Meta, the parent company of Facebook, Instagram, and Threads, has announced a significant step in the sector of artificial intelligence. The tech giant will now label all AI-generated images across its platforms, a move that comes amidst a year of crucial global elections. The decision underscores the increasing difficulty in distinguishing between human and synthetic content, a challenge acknowledged by Sir Nick Clegg, (pictured above), the former UK deputy prime minister turned Meta executive.

Meta has already been tagging photorealistic images created via its proprietary Meta AI feature with “Imagined with AI” labels. The company is now developing cutting-edge tools to identify invisible markers on AI-generated images sourced from other platforms like Google, OpenAI, Microsoft, or Adobe.

Implications of AI labelling

The labelling initiative will be rolled out on Facebook, Instagram, and Threads in the coming months. Sir Nick, now Meta’s president of global affairs, believes this period will offer valuable insights into the creation and sharing of AI content, the types of transparency users value, and the evolution of these technologies. These learnings will shape industry best practices and Meta’s future approach.

Meta has been collaborating with industry partners to establish common technical standards for identifying AI content. The company will be able to label AI-generated images when its technology detects these industry-standard indicators. The labels will be available in all languages.

Urgency of addressing AI-generated content

The urgency of Meta’s decision is highlighted by the sheer volume of AI-generated images online. Since 2022 alone, an estimated 15 billion images have been AI-generated and uploaded to the internet. While many of these images are harmless, a significant number are harmful, including fake explicit images uploaded without consent and politically motivated misinformation.

The move is also a response to increasing regulatory pressure. The UK’s Online Safety Act, passed last year, criminalizes the uploading of fake explicit images without consent. US lawmakers have also criticized social media companies for failing to protect users online, suggesting that legislation may be the only way to compel them to act.

Meta’s announcement is expected to prompt other companies to follow suit and help clarify which images are AI-generated. However, the effectiveness of digital watermarking is questionable, as research teams have demonstrated that even watermarks embedded in an image’s metadata can be easily removed. The real test will be whether the initiative leads to a decrease in harmful AI-generated content in the coming months.


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