Instagram feeds are suddenly flooded with strange messages claiming users’ ownership of previous and future posts and photographs.

This wave of pronouncements is motivated by growing concerns about artificial intelligence. Meta’s growth of AI technology, geared at keeping up with competitors, has sparked criticism from some users who believe their content is being utilized for AI training without their permission.

Unfortunately, these posts may have already been integrated into Meta’s AI algorithms, making any further protests potentially too late.

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Nicole Morris, a professor at Emory University’s School of Law, stated, “If someone says in a post that they own the rights to future posts, that has no legal teeth whatsoever.” She went on to say, “You don’t have copyright to a work that doesn’t exist. It is not like property, where you can leave your land to your heirs. However, a) people do not read, and b) they are unaware of the full legal implications and restrictions.

These statements, which resemble the copy-and-paste messages that have circulated since the advent of social media, range from declarations prohibiting Facebook from charging accounts to refusals to allow their data to be used for university research. Despite their variety, these remarks are unproductive.

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Instagram’s terms of service state that users own their images, however utilizing any Meta service such as Instagram or Facebook offers Meta a broad license. This license, which is valid until the user deletes their account, authorizes Meta to “host, use, distribute, modify, run, copy, publicly perform or display, translate, and create derivative works of your content.”

The United States’ privacy regulations regarding internet data are lax, allowing Meta to train its AI algorithms using posts. However, European regulations are stricter. Meta has notified its European users that it intends to use their public information for AI training beginning at the end of June.

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In Europe, tighter EU legislation allow individuals to opt out of Meta’s AI training based on their public information. Meanwhile, customers in the United States have fewer options, as they lack the express opt-out feature available in Europe. Users can, however, protect their privacy by changing their accounts to private and removing the stored details Meta’s AI has acquired using the command “/reset-all-ais” in the chat box.

In a press release issued on June 10, 2024, Meta (the parent company of Facebook and Instagram) stated that it was “working hard to build cutting-edge AI technology for Europeans that reflects their languages, geography, and cultural references in the same way as other regions in the world.”

In response, numerous social media users expressed worry over Meta’s amended privacy policy, which includes using their data for AI training.

Meta, mirroring Google and OpenAI’s actions, stated, “Since May 22nd, we’ve sent over two billion in-app notifications and emails to people in Europe to explain what we’re doing.” These alerts include a link to an objection form, where consumers can object to their data being used in our AI modeling efforts.”