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Why Cara App is the New Safe Space for Artists Against AI Scraping

  • Artists are migrating from Instagram to the Cara Portfolio App to protect their works from being used to train AI, leading to a significant surge in Cara’s user base and popularity.
  • Cara offers features like “NoAI” tags and tools like Glaze and Nightshade to safeguard artists’ content against AI data mining, despite its current technical challenges and the ongoing debate about its long-term effectiveness.

Over the past several months, Meta has begun secretly training its AI tool on Instagram posts; artists are moving away from Meta and towards lesser-known portfolio app Cara in order to shield their works from AI data scrapers.

Cara Portfolio App bills itself as an AI protection platform that shields artists’ images from being used to train artificial intelligence (AI), only permitting AI content if it has clear labels attached. Judging by recent sign up numbers of Cara users – its userbase surged from under 100,000 profiles on May 31 to over 300,000. Cara has quickly reached the top spot on Apple App Store since then!

Here’s everything you need to know about Cara app, from its key features and how it aims to protect artists’ works from AI scrapers, to its rising popularity and claims of protecting artists against such efforts.

What Is CARA App?

Cara is a social networking app designed for creatives. Users can post images of their artwork, memes or text-based thoughts – similar to major social networks such as X (formerly Twitter) or Instagram in some regards – through its mobile app or browser, both free for use.

X is like an arts-inspired combination of Instagram. Some elements appear taken directly from other social media websites (not an innovative approach but strategic); any barriers to adoption must remain low for new apps to succeed.

On iOS, CARA’s main page offers options to switch between “Home” and “Following” feeds – each looking remarkably like its counterpart on X. Scrollable posts appear with photos or text on top and an array of functions for comment, repost, like, bookmark and link functions below (visualized with heart icons similar to what can be found on X). There’s also an interactive search page, displayed as colorful grid similar to Instagram Explore but featuring squares filled with artwork rather than squares that display profiles similar to Instagram Explore but every square has some type of artwork within!


Cara may resemble existing social platforms in its user experience but also boasts several exclusive features of its own.

Users have the power to personalize their home feed by choosing which posts from people they follow, their network and the site at large they’d like to see first in their feed. They may also prefer not having text-based posts linked directly with their portfolio so professional discourse and fandom memes have their own space on this platform.

Cara stands out by featuring a LinkedIn-esque job tab to connect companies and artists more efficiently. Relevant job posts for game designer, VFX artist and animator positions are listed under this tab and link out directly to associated companies.

Why Are Artists Turning to CARA Instead of Instagram?

Cara doesn’t bring anything revolutionary technologically; what it provides, though, is an escape button for artists looking for ways to escape Instagram’s increasingly toxic creative environment.

Recently, Meta has started mining Instagram images and videos for artificial intelligence model training purposes. Users were informed through a small pop-up within the app; unfortunately it’s nearly impossible to opt-out unless living within Europe (even then Meta has made opting-out as difficult as possible). News about Meta’s handling of this feature quickly spread as criticism against them mounted.

This trend poses major implications for Instagram artists who rely on it as an income stream, especially those reliant on it to sell their work. They must now decide between allowing any of their posts be taken and used for AI training purposes–which would likely recreate it without permission later–or ending revenue stream altogether; some have chosen the latter option.

How Does Cara Protect Artists Against AI Data Mining?

Cara does not permit third-parties to train any AI models on its content, nor allow any models created using artificial intelligence models on third-party servers to scrape its posts for information by automatically applying “NoAI” tags across all its posts aimed at protecting its users against any sort of scraping attempts from AI engines. The website says these tags “are intended to tell AI scrapers not to scrape from Cara.”

At bottom, they appear to be HTML metadata tags which politely ask bad actors not to engage in any unlawful practices and it seems highly unlikely they hold any legal weight. Cara admits as much, too, warning its users that the tags aren’t a “fully comprehensive solution and won’t completely prevent dedicated scrapers.”

With that in mind, Cara assesses the “NoAI” tagging system as a “a necessary first step in building a space that is actually welcoming to artists–one that respects them as creators and doesn’t opt their work into unethical AI scraping without their consent.”

Issues surrounding AI image generators that capture images without consent are currently causing disputes in U.S. courts, with Google facing legal action from an association of artists–including Zhang herself–for using their work without their knowledge to train its AI image generator and train its AI image generator without consent.

Cara released another tool called Glaze to protect its artists’ work against scrapers in December; users may only utilize this service once. Glaze was developed by SAND Lab at University of Chicago to make it harder for AI models to accurately interpret an artist’s personal style; its purpose being to learn how AI bots perceive artwork before making subdued changes that remain undetectable by humans but cause issues when translated by AI bots; they then find difficulty “translating” that style into new recreations of it, yielding warped recreations as result of difficulty translating art style translation resulting in unexpected warped recreations of that art style!

Cara plans on using Nightshade from University of Chicago software as part of her plan to protect artwork against AI-powered image scapers in the near future. Nightshade “poisons” AI training data by adding invisible pixels into artwork which cause AI software to misinterpret them as fully understood images.

Cara uses an independent service to detect and moderate any AI art that appears on her site; any non-human art should be clearly labeled by its poster before posting to avoid data mining and abuse of her service.

Why Is Cara App Gaining Sudden Popularity–And Will it Last?

Its Early last week, Cara only had several thousand profiles. Over the past several days however, Instagram users such as Disney animator Aaron Blaise began posting links to their new Cara profiles in their stories on Instagram; some even deleted all previous content to transition completely over.

As soon as Zhang shared on Cara that 100,000 users had downloaded his app on May 31 and over 300,000 by June 2 he achieved top five app store rankings by surpassing Twitter, Discord, Reddit LinkedIn Messenger

Cara’s meteoric rise to fame has not come without issues. First and foremost, because Cara remains in beta stage, its small team of developers were still ironing out any issues before sudden waves of users joined up. Zhang posted to Cara that due to traffic growth the app repeatedly shuts down and servers have since been upgraded seven times since last week; as Cara is crowdfunded its creators are asking for additional funds in order to sustain it.

Cara may face both technical and interpersonal difficulties in its attempt to build artists’ trust, such as Instagram’s new tactics or DeviantArt’s recent algorithm changes which has altered significantly. Many may find these hurdles discouraging or unacceptable.

“I’m at the point where I’m so tired of joining these new apps for people abandoning them within a month,” one Redditor commented. “[. . .] I really don’t think that any new app can capture the essence of old DeviantArt. It was artist focused but it also had a decent amount of non-artists.”

Hyesu Lee of Brooklyn crafted an entire comic to illustrate her conflicted response to Cara app’s popularity. She revealed how she downloaded it due to being told Instagram may steal images for AI training but once she had downloaded, felt too defeated by it all to create an account and create any.

“Personally, as an artist who already juggles so many different balls, trying to navigate this whole thing is just another task that I wish I didn’t have to do,” Lee wrote in an email to Fast Company. “I’m not even sure if I’ll be able to figure out the differences, and also, who knows if they will stay the same? Plus, this never-ending constant worry of what works better for me as an artist is stressful.”

At Instagram’s inception, Lee saw it as an avenue for connecting with others and finding creative inspiration – yet now the platform feels less trustworthy or authentic.

“I’m sure it’s almost impossible to expect a perfect app that works for everyone’s needs, however, it seems so sad that everything that I see on my screen feels tainted these days and I feel like I create an image to post rather than posting because I created something wonderful that I wanted to share,” Lee wrote.

“How can anyone expect an artist to pump out images all the time, keep moving, and start building from scratch again and again? Then there’s no history, no stories . . . and it feels pointless to me.”

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