The knitting and crochet community is mobilizing against artificial intelligence scams

The knitting and crochet community is mobilizing against artificial intelligence scams

“The pattern is not the same as the product image” ; “I feel cheated, the pattern is not the same as the promotional photo” ; “as others have said, I ordered this model, and it is not the same model as in the photo”… There is no shortage of negative reviews on this Etsy store dedicated to crochet. The seller called Rebecca, based in Romania, offers patterns (simple textual instructions and in PDF format) to make charming little woolen characters yourself. However, if you look a little closer, there is something wrong with the models of Pokémon, hedgehogs or raccoons. A blurred background or too smooth appearance often betrays their origin: they are generated by artificial intelligence (AI).

By pretending to be a curious customer, we get less attractive photos from the seller, revealing a much simpler end product. Buyers, often female buyers, are angry and make that known. Rebecca offered at least one of them a refund if she deleted her negative comment, and promised she would see the boss again.

Rebecca’s shop is far from the only one. “I see more and more fake photos on my Facebook feed”, testifies Laurène Rein, creator of the crochet site l’Univers de Lalu. Images, she says, are often fake, but still generate a suspicious number of likes and positive comments. The one who offers a guide to detecting counterfeits on her blog recognizes it: with the advancement of image-generating AI, even experienced and aware crocheters can be fooled.

With success comes abuse

Depending on the case, simple but authentic patterns are sold behind the enticing AI-generated images. Sometimes the text is accompanied by more or less imaginative instructions generated by the chatbot ChatGPT. Others do not even bother with such considerations and are content to steal from their bosses elsewhere. The price is around three or four euros – this is the case for the one in Rebecca’s shop – but can be higher than ten euros.

Why chase a bunch of knitters and crocheters? For Lise Palmer, who founded the site Lise Tailor five years ago and offers her own patterns, the community is the victim of the growth: “At first crocheting was considered old-fashioned, but nowadays even young people are taking up it – with an attraction to the handmade and ecological aspect. And with success comes abuse: our exclusive patterns were found cheaper (the online shopping site) AliExpress, I never thought I would experience this with a knitting site! »

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