AI in social mediaYearbook trend costs money and data

Images reminiscent of yearbooks from the 1990s and 2000s are currently trending on TikTok and Instagram. The reason for this is the yearbook trend. An app uses artificial intelligence to transform users into their former selves. In this news article, we explain what is problematic about the computer-generated images, the so-called deepfakes, and what parents should be aware of.

What is the yearbook trend all about?

Social media users can't get around the hashtag "yearbook" at the moment. Numerous users are sharing pictures of themselves that appear to be from the 1990s and 2000s. However, these do not really show their younger selves. The images were created with the app "Epik - AI Photo Editor". This uses artificial intelligence to generate 60 "yearbook photos" from around ten selfies, which are reminiscent of the graduation books from the old days.

Why is this trend problematic?

Young people in particular like to follow current trends. That may be one reason why young people who weren't even born in that decade are presenting themselves on the web in the 90s look. 

The Yearbook trend comes at a price. It's true that downloading the app is free for now. To get the yearbook images, however, users have to invest just under 10 euros. Such in-app purchases can quickly become a cost trap, especially for children and young people.

In addition, some users do not realize that the images are artificially generated and do not show the real photos of the people.

Finally, it is important to note that the company behind the Epik app promises to delete the collected data as soon as the original reason for collecting it no longer exists or users have not interacted with the app for three years. However, the terms of use also state that uploaded content can be used for research and development purposes.

What should parents keep in mind?

  • Talk to your child about making sense of social media trends and keep an eye on what images your child shares on social media or uploads to AI tools.
  • Artificial intelligence is a rapidly evolving technology that is here to stay. Explain to your child how AI works and the possibilities and risks involved (deepfakes, deepnudes).
  • Make sure that in-app purchases are deactivated on your child's smartphone.
  • Make sure your child understands that data uploaded to the Internet can no longer be deleted.

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