Midjourney temporarily suspends free trial due to excessive demand and abuse
According to The Washington Post, popular AI image generator Midjourney has suspended its free trial this week.
Midjourney CEO David Holz announced the news on Discord on Tuesday morning, citing "exceptional demand and trial abuse."
According to subsequent posts, Holz and his colleagues attempted to address the abuse issue with security patches. However, the attempted changes were not enough to solve the problem. Holz stated in a post on Wednesday, "We tried to restart the trial with new abuse security measures, but these measures seem insufficient, so we're shutting down the free trial again."
Currently, the company's paid services remain available, while the free trial is still suspended but could be reinstated at any time.
Although The Washington Post's report initially implied that the "abuse" discussed was related to a recent series of virus-like deep fakes, the company denied this claim. According to Holz, "There are some significant misconceptions in the article. We stopped the trial because a significant number of users were getting free generated images by creating disposable accounts, which coincided with the temporary GPU shortage. Both factors also led to reduced service for paying customers."
The "new security measures" mentioned in Wednesday's Discord post were also intended to limit users to one free trial per person, according to Holz. "We're still working on figuring out how to restore the free trial. We're trying to require valid email addresses, but that's not enough, so we're back to the drawing board," he said.
As the recent hype around generative AI continues, using image generators to create deep fakes is becoming more popular. Social media is filled with convincing but untrue images, such as various fake photos of former President Trump being arrested after news of his indictment broke, all created using Midjourney.
Holz hinted that these images were not enough reason to restrict or shut down Midjourney access. Instead, the company claims that the current ban on the free trial is a form of profit protection. It hopes that users will move from the free trial to paid subscriptions rather than trying the free trial again.
Holz further suggested that the recent problematic political images were products of Midjourney v5, which is only open to paying customers.
The CEO still says that Midjourney is working to improve restraint. "I think we're still figuring out what the right restraint policy is. We're listening to feedback from experts and the community and trying to be thoughtful. We've got some new systems coming soon," he wrote.
Compared to competitors like OpenAI's DALL-E, Midjourney's standards are much more relaxed. DALL-E's policy prohibits users from creating any sexual or violent content, including real political figures. However, compared to Stable Diffusion, where users can download open-source software and effectively do anything they want, Midjourney has more restrictions.
Suspending free access to Midjourney does not solve the problem. Moreover, the CEO once again denies that the decision to halt the free trial was influenced by the spread of deep fake works.