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If you’ve been scrolling down your social media feed, you’ve probably stumbled upon the exciting Lensa app craze that flooded the internet over the weekend. Users have been posting incredible AI-generated portraits of themselves all across Instagram and Twitter-all thanks to the viral photo editing app. But unfortunately, the popular fad is already at the center of some eyebrow-raising controversy.

Here’s what you should know before downloading the buzzing image editor.


What is Lensa?

Created by Prisma AI, Lensa uses the power of artificial intelligence to create stunning self-portraits using various tools like their Face Retouch and Magic Correction features, according to Mashable. You can create your own “AI Avatar” by uploading 10 to 20 photos of yourself into the app. Lensa uses the magic of AI to pull bits and pieces from each photo to create the perfect self-portrait.

While the app appears to be in demand now, Lensa isn’t new. The advanced image editor has been available in the App Store and Google Play since 2018.

Over the weekend, several celebrities took to social media to show off their stunning Lensa self-portraits. Pose star MJ Rodriguez posted a photo from the app which captured her glammed up as an android. Ghosts actress Danielle Pinnock sent fans spiraling with a whimsical nature photo that the app generated using her images.


If you’re looking to create your own cool Lensa Avatar, you’ll need to cough up $3.99 to access the app’s state-of-the-art editing tools. But proceed with caution. While Lensa appears to be all fun and games, privacy and ethical concerns about the app’s AI technology are already buzzing across social media.

Some users believe Lensa may be stealing art from marginalized artists

On Twitter, digital artists have been calling Lensa out for using a technique called Stable Diffusion to replicate and allegedly “steal” from the existing work of some marginalized artists. According to ASR Technica, Stable Diffusion is an “open-source AI image synthesis model that generates images using text input. For example, typing “astronaut on a dragon” into SD will typically create an image of exactly that.

Some people on social media believe Lensa is using the technology to remix and repurpose content from digital artists without compensation or credit. On Twitter, voice artist Jenny Yokobori warned users of downloading Lensa, noting how apps like the image editor “are predatory and intend to replace artists.”

“I see the appeal, it’s cheap and fast and seems harmless. But, these AI are actively hurting real artists who have actually worked to be as good as they are,” she added in her Twitter thread. “Real art shouldn’t be cheap or fast because art is born from passion and dedication.”

Twitch streamer and photographer @CallMeAzia urged people to put down the app to stand up for the rights of content creators. “We don’t need yet another unethically sourced thing,” she added.

A few Twitter users accused the app of generating images that were “misogynistic” and oversexualized.

Users may be selling their face data away to Lensa

According to Prisma’s privacy policy, users “retain all rights in and to” their content on the Lensa app. But if you agree to Prisma’s terms, under their Company License clause, they have the right to “reproduce, modify, adapt, translate, create derivative works from” your user content “without any additional compensation.” This helps with the research and development of their AI technology, according to the company. Luckily, if you have any concerns, you can write an email to Lensa requesting to delete your personal data from the app.

In a Twitter thread, author and professor Chanda Prescod-Weinstein pointed out that you can also email the app if you’d like to forgo having your material used in Lensa’s advertising campaigns.

Have you used the Lensa app? What are your thoughts? Tell us in the comments section.


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