A cute robot penguin painting a picture of itself using a canvas mounted on a a wooden easel, in the countryside. Generated by Imagine with Meta AI
An image generated by Imagine with Meta AI, using the prompt “A cute robot penguin painting a picture of itself using a canvas mounted on a a wooden easel, in the countryside.” The image contains IPTC DigitalSourceType metadata showing that it was generated by AI.

Yesterday Nick Clegg, Meta’s President of Global Affairs, announced that Meta would be using IPTC embedded photo metadata to label AI-Generated Images on Facebook, Instagram and Threads.

Meta already uses the IPTC Photo Metadata Standard’s Digital Source Type property to label images generated by its platform. The image to the right was generated using Imagine with Meta AI, Meta’s image generation tool. Viewing the image’s metadata with the IPTC’s Photo Metadata Viewer tool shows that the Digital Source Type field is set to “trainedAlgorithmicMedia” as recommended in IPTC’s Guidance on metadata for AI-generated images.

Clegg said that “we do several things to make sure people know AI is involved, including putting visible markers that you can see on the images, and both invisible watermarks and metadata embedded within image files. Using both invisible watermarking and metadata in this way improves both the robustness of these invisible markers and helps other platforms identify them.”

This approach of both direct and indirect disclosure is in line with the Partnership on AI’s Best Practices on signalling the use of generative AI.

Also, Meta are building recognition of this metadata into their tools: “We’re building industry-leading tools that can identify invisible markers at scale – specifically, the “AI generated” information in the C2PA and IPTC technical standards – so we can label images from Google, OpenAI, Microsoft, Adobe, Midjourney, and Shutterstock as they implement their plans for adding metadata to images created by their tools.”

We have previously shared the news that Google, Microsoft, Adobe, Midjourney and Shutterstock will use IPTC metadata in their generated images, either directly in the IPTC Photo Metadata block or using the IPTC Digital Source Type vocabulary as part of a C2PA assertion. OpenAI has just announced that they have started using IPTC via C2PA metadata to signal the fact that images  from DALL-E are generated by AI.

A call for platforms to stop stripping image metadata

We at the IPTC agree that this is a great step towards end-to-end support of indirect disclosure of AI-generated content.

As the Meta and OpenAI posts points out, it is possible to strip out both IPTC and C2PA metadata either intentionally or accidentally, so this is not a solution to all problems of content credibility.

Currently, one of the main ways metadata is stripped from images is when they are uploaded to Facebook or other social media platforms. So with this step, we hope that Meta’s platforms will stop stripping metadata from images when they are shared – not just the fields about generative AI, but also the fields regarding accessibility (alt text), copyright, creator’s rights and other information embedded in images by their creators.

Video next?

Meta’s post indicates that this type of metadata isn’t commonly used for video or audio files. We agree, but to be ahead of the curve, we have added Digital Source Type support to IPTC Video Metadata Hub so videos can be labelled in the same way.

We will be very happy to work with Meta and other platforms on making sure IPTC’s standards are implemented correctly in images, videos and other areas.