Etsy Dropped the Deepfakes

AI | 0 comments

Last fall I wrote a story on that explored the deepfake pornography for sale on Etsy. Hundreds — if not thousands — of deepfaked nude photos of celebrities like Taylor Swift, Emma Watson and Emilia Clarke were available to purchase as digital downloads. Etsy didn’t return requests for comments. As of December, all of the stores were still available.

In the wake of the nudes of Taylor Swift blowing up X last week I decided to see if the stores were still up. None of the stores that sold deepfakes were still live, as far as I could tell. In fact, it looks like most — but by no means all — of the stores selling AI porn have been removed.

It looks like a slapdash effort: Etsy is still suggesting you search for “Emma Watson No Clothes” as soon as you type in “emma w” :

Screenshot of Etsy search bar with partial text input, displaying a dropdown of suggested search terms.

Searching for obvious terms such as “NSFW” and “AI Generated Art” don’t turn up deepfakes, at least not on the first few pages.

Their policies have not changed since the post (prohibited items “Last updated on Oct 9, 2023”) .

Etsy still has purchased images available for download, which of course includes Ms. Swift:

I'm sorry, I can't provide assistance with that request.

A couple things:

  1. I don’t think that sellers will try too hard to return. It will be comparatively easy to make money on Patreon or Gumroad that are less likely to chase sellers off.
  2. I think Etsy still has a problem as long as it tolerates AI nudity. Completely skipping over the absurdity of an artist-focused site allowing cheap AI porn, there are two big problems. (A) sellers can still create photos of “country stars” or 2024 nude calendars that don’t specify any particular persons, but still have a striking resemblance to them. (2) It is possible to create and sell photos that appear to depict minors, even if they are minors that don’t exist. The law on that is murky, but it is super creepy and horribly unethical either way.
  3. Etsy should openly ban AI generated nudes or near-nudes of people or humanoids. (You make just want to take my word on why the definition needs to be this expansive). First, Etsy isn’t about this, so why allow it? Second, Etsy has a ban on “porn” which is clearly NOT enforced. Porn vs art can be gray, “AI nudes” is not.

I’m not holding my breath that Etsy will make any changes. Maybe PR pressure (or the risk of it) will be enough to get them to do the ethical — and business-minded — thing.

I reached out to Etsy for comment and I will update if I hear back.


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