AI image generator Midjourney halts free trials over viral deepfakes — what you need to know

A person holding a phone with Midjourney running on it with some AI images on a computer in the background
(Image credit: shutterstock)

Viral deepfake images created using its AI image generator have led to Midjourney pausing free trials for all users.

Considered one of the best AI image generators available so far, Midjourney sets itself apart from others thanks to its Discord integration and strong focus on community. Previously, free users could generate 25 free images using the service before having to upgrade to one of its paid plans which start at $10 a month.

However, as reported by The Verge, Midjourney has decided to halt free trials of its service following the creation of several viral deepfake images on its platform. Just six months ago, the company’s CEO and founder David Holz told the news outlet it wasn’t possible to force Midjourney “to make a deepfake right now”.

The AI powering Midjourney has seen a number of improvements in the time since including the release of version 5 of its software which made it much easier to generate images depicting people. Gone are the days of misshapen hands and Midjourney has now been used to create viral AI-generated images of Donald Trump’s arrest and even the pope wearing a very stylish white jacket.

Unfortunately though, many users online believed that these fake, AI-generated images were real due to Midjourney’s recent improvements. As such, the company has stepped in to prevent free users from creating more believable deepfake images using its service.

In a post on Discord, Holz provided further details on the change, saying: “We tried turning trials back on again with new safeties for abuse but they didn’t seem to be sufficient so we are turning it back off again to maintain the service for everyone else.”

Other AI image generators to try instead

An AI image generated by DALL.E 2

(Image credit: DALL.E 2)

While Midjourney may reverse its decision to block free users from generating new AI images, there are plenty of other AI image generators out there that are worth a try.

For instance, OpenAI’s DALL•E 2 (created by the team behind ChatGPT) provides free users with 15 credits per month with additional credits starting at $15 for 115 additional prompts. Keep in mind though, the service’s credits expire a year after purchase, so you’ll want to use them soon.

DreamStudio has a more impressive free offering and signing up for an account gives you 100 tokens which is enough to create up to 500 images. If you don’t mind watching ads and want to generate AI images on mobile, StarryAI gives iOS and Android users five credits a day but you can earn an additional five credits by watching ads.

Finally, the new Bing with ChatGPT has its own free AI image generator called Bing Image. It allows you to generate an unlimited number of AI images and there aren’t any paid plans at all. Bing Image uses the same model as DALL•E 2 without the restrictions.

We’ll have to wait and see if Midjourney decides to lift its ban on free users generating images but in the meantime, these services can help you generate AI images.

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Anthony Spadafora
Senior Editor Security and Networking

Anthony Spadafora is the security and networking editor at Tom’s Guide where he covers everything from data breaches and ransomware gangs to password managers and the best way to cover your whole home or business with Wi-Fi. Before joining the team, he wrote for ITProPortal while living in Korea and later for TechRadar Pro after moving back to the US. Based in Houston, Texas, when he’s not writing Anthony can be found tinkering with PCs and game consoles, managing cables and upgrading his smart home.