Tip Sheets

TikTok’s new avatars do little to address nonconsensual images

Media Contact

Becka Bowyer

Social media app TikTok announced new generative AI avatars of creators and stock actors for branded content and ads on its platform. The company says these new “custom avatars” are designed to represent a creator or a brand spokesperson.

Brooke Erin Duffy

Associate Professor of Communication

Brooke Erin Duffy, associate professor of communication at Cornell University, is a social media expert. Duffy is currently working on a book exploring the promises, perils and paradoxes of the digital creator economy.

Duffy says:

“As cultural workers whose careers depend upon platform tools and features, creators can presage larger shifts at the intersection of generative AI and labor. Their use – or, conversely, resistance – of these avatars will be quite telling for making sense of rapidly evolving AI landscape.

“While TikTok's program purportedly gives creators more robust control over the digital images, the new tools do little to redress broader concerns about the unauthorized use of creators’ likeness, such as nonconsensual deepfakes.

“The influencer marketing landscape is predicated on the ideals of authenticity, relatability, and ‘realness.’ What remains to be seen is how these new avatars will uphold these ideals – elusive as they may be.”

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