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The Dark Side of Instagram's AI Revolution for Influencers

Posted on September 6, 2023

If there is one thing I know about Gen Z, it's that they are resourceful and lazy in a good way. They always find the simplest way to get things done. Knowing this, we can assume that many of them will soon jump on the AI bandwagon and start creating content at scale using AI. This is great for creators; we will be much more effective than ever before and gain more followers, sponsorships, and money. However, there are potential risks associated with using AI to generate content on Instagram, just as with any other type of automated content creation. I know, this may sound like Aunty Wen becoming a real Aunty to talk about these risks and be a party pooper, but it is important to assess these risks, especially the last one about algorithmic bias. Before we get to that, let's start with the basics.

The risk of lack of authenticity 

Many have said that AI can replace humans soon, and while I wish for that too, I strongly believe we are some time away from AI actually being "that" good. At least for us to all (30 million population) be able to afford such sophisticated AI modelling, it will take some time. Meanwhile, what you see out there is not as good as you as an individual, and if you use AI excessively, you risk losing your authenticity. Influencers are loved because of their authenticity, and using AI excessively could remove some of it. Users may be able to tell that the content was generated by a machine, which could lead to lower engagement and credibility.

The risk of copyright infringement 

While AI can help with editing content, there is a risk that the AI draws from content that may not have been allowed to be used for commercial purposes. Just imagine, AI can create a video of you roaming the streets of Barcelona without you ever stepping foot into the city. If the person who shot the video around Barcelona finds you using their video as your background, you are using their copyrighted content! This could lead to legal issues and damage your reputation as an influencer. 

The risk of losing your creativity 

While AI can generate content quickly and efficiently, it may not have the same level of creativity and originality as human-generated content. As influencers, your tone and voice are everything. Using AI to help you generate scalable content will come at the cost of your content losing some of your creativity. The AI is not you, but clients are paying for you (not only your channel but also your creativity). One too many such contents, and your clients will notice the changes to your quality of work and will no longer want to engage your service, and even worse, your followers begin to disengage from your content! 

The risk of algorithmic bias 

When we look at the bigger picture, combining all influencers and all Malaysians as a collective data set, we must realize that AI is only as unbiased as the data it is trained on. There is a risk that AI-generated content could reflect and reinforce existing biases and stereotypes, and this is an alarming situation.

In the context of influencer marketing, algorithmic bias occurs when a company uses an AI algorithm to identify and select influencers for a new campaign. The algorithm is trained on a dataset of past successful campaigns, which happen to have been run primarily by influencers who are Urban Malays and from high-income backgrounds. When the algorithm is used to select influencers for the new campaign, it favors influencers who fit the same profile, even if there are other influencers who would be a better fit.

This bias based on the race and socioeconomic background of past successful influencers leads to a lack of diversity and inclusivity in the new campaign. This is a serious issue that can perpetuate and reinforce existing biases and discrimination in the influencer marketing industry. If these algorithms are trained on biased data, they may perpetuate and reinforce existing biases and inequalities.

This bias is already happening today. Just look at social media, its algorithms feed us content that is biased. Whether it is through a simple “others like me” also liked the content or “because I liked X content, I may also like Y content,” we are already exposed to a large extent of biased content. However, with AI (specifically Microsofts acquisition or ChatGPT, and integrating this AI into its full suite of services), every single part of our life online will be subjected to algorithmic bias. Our analytical skills, writing, project managing, calendaring, presenting, and everything else is all done with the aid of AI, and we are no longer in control of ourselves. Our opinions will no longer be truly ours because we are fed biased knowledge. Is this truly the price we are willing to pay for convenience?

There is so much beauty in AI, but there is equally a lot to fear! In fact, Elon Musk has been warning us to stop progressing so quickly with AI for fear of its repercussions to humanity - Read here

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