What Does Google Think about the Use of AI Images

2 min read
Google on Use of AI Images

In the 48th Episode of Google’s Search Off the Record Podcast that was aired about 3 weeks ago, Google’s Lizzi Sassman and John Mueller discussed at length about the use AI generated images and whether or not they are acceptable to Google. Google’s official stand is pretty clear at this point, “Automatically generated (or “auto-generated”) content is content that’s been generated programmatically without producing anything original or adding sufficient value; instead, it’s been generated for the primary purpose of manipulating search rankings and not helping users. We detect policy-violating content and behaviours both through automated systems and, as needed, human review that can result in a manual action. Sites that violate our policies may rank lower in results or not appear in results at all.”

In the past, not too long ago, even John Mueller made it pretty clear that content machine generated content or AI-generated content goes against Google’s Guidelines and is considered spam and could result in a manual penalty. He said, “For us these would, essentially, still fall into the category of automatically generated content which is something we’ve had in the Webmaster Guidelines since almost the beginning. My suspicion is maybe the quality of content is a little bit better than the really old school tools, but for us it’s still automatically generated content, and that means for us it’s still against the Webmaster Guidelines. So we would consider that to be spam. …But for us, if we see that something is automatically generated, then the webspam team can definitely take action on that.” Let’s take a deep dive into the discussion and see what Lizzi and John exchanged on the topic.

Are AI-generated image exempted from this rule?

Interestingly, yes, but only in certain cases. Given the fact that AI-generated content is strictly prohibited, one would assume that the same stands true when it comes to images generated by machine or AI, but that is not the case. Discussing a hypothetical situation where Google Search Central would use images generated by Dall-E, machine learning models developed by OpenAI to generate digital images from natural language descriptions, Mueller pointed out that it would be an exciting move.

Here’s what Lizzi Sassman asked.

“I know that you’ve been doing a lot with DALL-E in the Craiyon site, and all these kinds of places to get fun images. And I was wondering what would you say to using DALL-E to generate images for our site, Google Search Central, if we just started piping that in to refresh our images across the whole site– what would you say to that?”

To which John replied.

“That would be an exciting move.” further adding that that shouldn’t be the case while posting images that need to depict the actual thing, like screenshots.

“I think the tricky part would be if you’re showing screenshots of specific things, and you’re piping that into some machine-art-generated thing, then maybe you don’t necessarily get actual screenshots”

Final Thoughts

Mueller seemed interested in the idea of creating a library of images out of DALL-E but shared his reservations about posting images that need to be exactly what they need to be, say like a screenshot. However, if anything we can take away from the discussion is the use of AI-generated images doesn’t seem to deviate from Google’s Spam Guidelines and are generally considered acceptable. You can listen to Lizzi’s and Mueller’s response at the 34 second mark and may be also stick around for the rest of the discussion for some other valuable insights.

Source: Search Engine Journal