Google’s Surprising Stance On AI Images

Google’s Surprising Stance On AI Images

The use of AI-generated images on websites was recently highlighted in a Search off the Record podcast by Google’s Lizzi Sassman and John Mueller.

Considering how Google handles AI-generated text content, some of their thoughts could come across as surprising.

John Mueller brought attention to the AI technology’s limits in creating images.

AI-generated content

Within the narrow context of manipulating search results, the use of automatically generated text is forbidden for Google search.

According to Google’s rules on machine-generated content, they may take action on content that is designed to manipulate search rankings rather than provide genuine value to users.

John Mueller has also gone on record saying that content generated by artificial intelligence is spam.

His suspicion is that, even though the quality of the AI-generated content is better now than before when using old school tools, it is still automatically generated content – meaning it still goes against the Webmaster Guidelines.

“So we would consider that to be spam,” Mueller is clear.

That being said, there are ambiguities in Google’s rules on auto-generated content, which may be indicative of how quickly the internet industry is changing.

For example, the use of automatic text translation for content generation is considered a violation of the guidelines unless it has been reviewed and curated by a human.

However, because meta descriptions are not used for ranking purposes, Google permits automatic production of meta descriptions.

So, Google doesn’t have a blanket policy banning AI stuff, but rather has exceptions.

AI-generated images

Given that AI-generated content might be eligible for ranking in Google Images, it stands to reason that AI-generated images would be similarly banned.

However, it appears that is not the case.

Both Lizzi Sassman and John Mueller seemed fine with the idea of Google adopting AI-generated material in theory.

When asked by Lizzi about the possibility of using DALL-E (an AI image generator) to create images for Google Search Central, John replied that it would be “an exciting move.”

Mueller is only wary about employing AI for photos when they are representing something that should be an actual thing, such as a screenshot. But overall, he explicitly stated that he would try AI image generation out.

AI image generation limitations

The only concern John Mueller had with AI images was that since the system is built on image datasets, it can only produce images that are present in the library of images it was trained on.

“If there are not enough images reflected [in the library],” Mueller says, “then whatever you ask is kind of very vague.”

So is AI-generated content okay?

It would appear that AI-generated photos used on a website are allowed.

Surprisingly, there was no mention of any restrictions or caveats regarding the use of AI-generated photos and ranking in Google Images, despite the fact that the use of auto generated text content is forbidden or limited for Google Search.

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