Google Gemini temporarily halts AI-generated images of humans amid uproar

Google Gemini logo with person holding phone
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Google had a bit of trouble with its Gemini chatbot this week that has caused it to temporarily suspend Gemini's ability to generate images of human beings.

That's a significant limit to set on the AI chatbot formerly known as Google Bard, one established only after multiple reports surfaced this week of Gemini users being dissatisfied with images of people generated by the chatbot.

Their dissatisfaction? Apparently, when asked for pictures of historical figures like Nazi soldiers or the U.S. founding Fathers, Google Gemini would generate them — but sometimes with dark, historically inaccurate skin colors. As you might expect, some people on the Internet got upset about it.

Pictures began circulating on social media Wednesday (Feb 21) of Gemini-generated images showing World War II-era Nazi soldiers with black skin, or groups of U.S. Founding Fathers with a far greater diversity of skin tones than history would suggest. Shortly thereafter, Google issued an apology (via the Google Communications account on X) in which it acknowledged the issue and said it was "working to improve these kinds of depictions immediately."

But apparently the work wasn't easy, because the issue wasn't resolved immediately. Instead, the day after (today, Feb 22) Google temporarily put the kibosh on Gemini's ability to generate images of humans. 

In a follow-up post on X, Google's Comms team reiterated that engineers are working on the issue and that "we're going to pause the image generation of people and will re-release an improved version soon."

As you can see, as of Thursday afternoon Google Gemini still refuses to generate images of people. (Image credit: Future)

As for how soon that may be, it's hard to tell. Multiple Tom's Guide staffers have tried to use Gemini to generate images of humans today, and so far we've had no luck. When I asked Gemini to generate an image of a Black Viking for me, it refused.

"We are working to improve Gemini's ability to generate images of people," it replied instead. "We expect this feature to return soon and will notify you in release updates when it does."

When that will be, it's hard to say. We've reached out to Google to ask them directly, and will update this story if we hear any relevant details.

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Alex Wawro
Senior Editor Computing

Alex Wawro is a lifelong tech and games enthusiast with more than a decade of experience covering both for outlets like Game Developer, Black Hat, and PC World magazine. A lifelong PC builder, he currently serves as a senior editor at Tom's Guide covering all things computing, from laptops and desktops to keyboards and mice.