Lensa AI Magic Avatars

Photo editing app Lensa AI's Magic Avatars uses AI to transform selfies into anime, painting, or drawing versions of oneself in the style of popular artists or styles like sci-fi, fantasy and anime.

Built on open source image generator Stable Diffusion, Magic Avatars quickly proved popular, shooting to the top of Apple's photo and video app charts  ahortly after its launch.

Operator: Prisma Labs
Developer: Prisma Labs

Country: USA; Global

Sector: Media/entertainment/sports/arts

Purpose: Create avatars

Technology: Neural network; Deep learning; Machine learning
Issue: Copyright; Privacy; Safety; Employment - jobs

Transparency: Governance; Marketing

Risks and harms 🛑

Lensa's Magic Avatars app has caused controversy due to its inadequate safety guardrails, privacy concerns about how user data is being used, the alleged re-use and manipulation of artists' work without their knowledge or permission, and fears for the future of digital artists' jobs.


Concerns exist about the extent to which Lensa offers protection for people whose art has been used to train its model. 

While Prisma states in its privacy policy that it will not use user photos for any reason other than to apply its filters without user consent, the company's small print appears to allow it to 'distribute' and 'use' stored images 'without any additional compensation' to the user, and that by uploading 'user content' publicly, everyone must agree to its license, which seems to give the app permission to use user photos.


Lensa Magic Avatars has prompted artists, illustrators, and others to wonder what the future holds in store for their jobs when works in their styles can be automatically be generated at very little cost and without their explicit permission.


Lensa has raised concerns about people using others' photos inappropriately, including generating nudes of celebrities and other people they have photos of without their consent. 

Questions have also been asked about how long Lensa keeps images uploaded to its servers, and how users can opt-out of training datasets such as LAION - on which Stable Diffusion, which powers Lensa - is based.

In February 2023, Prisma Labs was accused in a lawsuit of violating the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act by not properly disclosing its collection of biometric identifiers and including no data deletion plan in its privacy policy.


Magic Avatars has been criticised by female users for sexualising their portraits, making them thinner, and whitening their skin tones. Some users noted that men seemed not to be subject to the same level of sexualisation.

Female journalists at WIRED, Technology Review, TechCrunch and Insider recorded how they were able to generate near-realistic adolescent and sexualised images, and nude and non-consensual pornography.

Lensa’s terms of service oblige users to submit only appropriate content, including 'no nudes'. 

Page info
Type: System
Published: December 2022
Last updated: May 2024