TikTok debuts new tools and technology to label AI content

By | September 19, 2023

As more creators turn to AI for their artistic expression, there is also a broader push for transparency around when AI was involved in content creation. To address this concern, TikTok announced today that it will launch a new tool that will allow creators to label their AI-generated content and will begin testing other ways to automatically label AI-generated content.

The company says it felt the need to introduce AI labeling because AI content could potentially confuse or mislead viewers. Of course, TikTok had already updated its policy to deal with synthetic media, which requires people to label AI content that contains realistic images, audio or video, such as deepfakes, to help viewers contextualize the video and avoid the spread of misleading information. TikTok’s policy allows it to remove realistic AI images that are not disclosed.

However, outside of the extreme case of using AI to intentionally mislead users, some AI-generated content may straddle the line between appearing real or fake. In this gray area, end users often appreciate more transparency so they know whether or not the content they are viewing has been heavily edited or created with AI.

Image credits: TikTok

TikTok’s new tool being introduced now will not only make it easier for creators to comply with this existing policy around synthetic media, but it will also label any other content that has been completely generated using AI or significantly edited with AI. The tool will be available to creators after the video is uploaded, and TikTok does not wait for creators to go back and rename their previous videos.

When the creator uses the new tool, TikTok will display a message below the video’s username that the creator has labeled the video as AI-generated.

However, TikTok will not penalize creators for failing to label their AI content that does not fall under its existing synthetic media policy.

Image credits: TikTok

Additionally, TikTok says it is working to develop a way to automatically detect and label AI content. This week, it will begin testing an “AI-generated” label that will eventually be applied to any content it detects has been edited or created with AI.

The company declined to share details about how its technology will search for potential AI content, noting that sharing such details could potentially allow bad actors to bypass its detection capabilities. However, TikTok said it will test different AI detection models and is “evaluating” provenance partnerships designed to help platforms better detect AI by embedding AI labels in the content itself.

Labeling AI is becoming a more common practice for large platforms, with OpenAI and Google announcing their own AI detection capabilities in recent months. Instagram also appears to be working on a feature that highlights when content has been created or edited with AI. And the EU is pushing for platforms to label AI content as a general rule in its fight against disinformation.

As a result of its new push for transparency, TikTok will also rename all of its effects that use AI, explicitly including “AI” in their names. This is something he previously refused to disclose. In fact, when TikTok’s Bold Glamor filter went viral for being a technical feat in terms of morphing users’ faces, some suspected that the filter wasn’t using AR (augmented reality) but AI. However, TikTok refused to respond to press questions asking whether the product was AI at the time.

With the new labeling changes, users will now be able to quickly determine which TikTok filters are using AI. The company says its updated guidelines for Effect House creators will ask them to do the same.

TikTok notes that it consulted its Security Advisory Boards when developing its new AI labels, as well as industry experts, including MIT’s Dr. David G. Rand, whose research examined how users respond to different types of AI labels. To that end, TikTok has adopted the term “AI-generated,” which is widely understood across all demographics.

It will also release educational videos and other media literacy resources in the coming weeks to help users better understand AI.

The updates follow other initiatives TikTok has taken around AI in media, including its February commitment to the Partnership on Responsible AI Practices for Synthetic Media, an industry code of best practices for AI transparency and innovation. responsible, the company said. It also partnered with nonprofit Digital Moment in August to host roundtables with young people to learn about their perspectives on advances in online AI.

AI labels will start rolling out today, but you won’t be able to see them immediately until the rollout is complete.

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