Midjourney, an AI image generator, has discontinued their free trial service due to widespread misuse by users. The tool had been used to create fake pictures of high-profile figures which led to criticism and controversy. Midjourney CEO David Holz explained the decision on their Discord channel by citing “extraordinary demand and trial abuse” as the primary reasons behind their decision.
Holz acknowledged that their company’s safeguards during trial periods had been insufficient, leading to the requirement that users pay at least $10 (R179) per month in order to access the service. Recently, several fabricated images generated using this tool have gone viral, such as Donald Trump being chased and arrested by police officers, and Pope Francis wearing a white puffer coat.
The misuse of the tool has resulted in some notable incidents. Fact-checker and investigative journalist Eliot Higgins was believed to be behind the Trump pictures and was later banned from Midjourney; shortly after these images surfaced, Midjourney also banned “arrested” from its platform.
Other images circulating online include a point-of-view picture depicting what Will Smith’s infamous Oscars 2022 slap might have looked like from Chris Rock’s perspective. Midjourney-generated images also showed tech billionaire Elon Musk walking hand-in-hand with New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC), suggesting they were in an intimate relationship. AOC has been one of Musk’s staunchest political critics, especially regarding his Twitter policies.
Holz has acknowledged the challenge of monitoring content policies for Midjourney as its creations become ever more realistic. After facing criticism in the past for allowing images of Chinese leader Xi Jinping to be created, Midjourney banned their use to “minimise drama” and avoid potential bans in China. Furthermore, Midjourney banned prompts with words for parts of human reproductive systems in an effort to prevent disturbing sexualised images from being created.
In conclusion, Midjourney’s decision to discontinue the free trial service of their AI image generator is in response to widespread misuse by users. The move seeks to address the controversy surrounding fake images created with this tool of high-profile individuals. Despite challenges associated with regulating content policies for this generator, Midjourney remains dedicated to preventing future misuse.