What is Cara, the Instagram rival artists are flocking to?

7 Jun 2024

Image: © Miyamoto Haruka/Stock.adobe.com

Cara has advertised itself as a safe space from the rise of AI-generated images and has surged in popularity as artists take issue with Meta.

As concerns grow about Meta’s AI policies, various artists are jumping ship from Instagram to Cara, a site where they feel more protected from this technology.

The artist-focused site has witnessed a surge in users over the past week, rising from 40,000 to 650,000 in a very short space of time, according to TechCrunch. The site and app advertises itself as a platform for artists and a place to filter out the “widespread use of generative AI”.

This technology has been a concern for artists for some time, particularly in 2022 when AI-generated art began to surge online. As these AI models are trained on vast amounts of data, many artists are concerned that their work is being used without consent to train their automated competition.

Cara was developed in response to the rise of generative AI art, but the recent controversy at Meta has helped the site to soar.

Meta is facing criticism as it plans to use data from its sites such as Facebook and Instagram to train its various AI models. This has raised concerns over the use of personal data, but it also concerns artists that use these sites to showcase their work.

As a result, many are leaving Instagram to move to Cara – and sharing detailed explanations on their Instagram pages explaining their reason for switching sites.

What is Cara?

Cara is both a website and an app that acts as both a social media site and a portfolio page for artists. It was created by Jingna Zhang, a photographer who has publicly spoken out about her work being used to train AI models. Zhang is also involved in a lawsuit with other artists against Google’s Imagen AI image generator.

The site was made in response to the rise of generative AI as a way to protect the “human factor” in artwork.

“With the widespread use of generative AI, we decided to build a place that filters out generative AI images so that people who want to find authentic creatives and artwork can do so easily,” Cara says on its site. “Many platforms currently accept AI art when it’s not ethical, while others have promised ‘no AI forever’ policies without consideration for the scenario where adoption of such technologies may happen at the workplace in the coming years.”

Cara has also adopted some technology that has been developed to protect art from being used to train AI. This includes Glaze – which adds subtle changes to artworks to interfere with the ability of AI models to read the image’s data. There are also plans to add the Nightshade feature in the future, which turns art pieces into “poison” samples that negatively impact AI models if they use too many poisoned images.

But while Cara is taking steps to be a safe space from generative AI, the site doesn’t claim to be against the technology in its entirety and believes that creative industries will use AI heavily in the future. But Cara is against how these AI models are used in their “current unethical form”.

“We won’t host AI-generated portfolios unless the rampant ethical and data privacy issues around datasets are resolved via regulation,” the site says.

“In the event that legislation is passed to clearly protect artists, we believe that AI-generated content should always be clearly labelled, because the public should always be able to search for human-made art and media easily.”

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Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic