Users open the app, choose 'AI Yearbook,' pick their gender, upload eight to 12 selfies, and select a standard wait time to receive the photos – $5.99 for 24 hours or $9.99 for two hours. The app generates 60 distinct images of the user represented as 90s archetypes, like basketball jock or gothic grunge.
The sharing of these photos across social media has skyrocketed. On TikTok alone, #90sAIYearBook has garnered 122.3 million views in under two weeks, and downloads of the app have increased thirtyfold, reaching 50 million overall.
Harnessing nowstalgia (the impulse to ‘return’ to an imagined past by those who never experienced it first hand), this nostalgia-packed tool aligns with a rising youth trend (see Soft Living & Nostalgia in our YMS 2023 report) and also satisfies the public's craving for creative content with a twist. Although reliant on generative AI rather than human ingenuity, the feature does foreground user choice, allowing them to select their gender identity and the 90s archetype that they think best represents them.
Nevertheless, as AI tools continue to crop up as social media trends and viral content, concerns about their limitations and exclusions, particularly for people of colour, have grown. On October 11, Black Canadian TikToker @Etms20 (a young woman) posted a video attempting to use the feature, but the results portrayed a man bearing little resemblance to her. The video has garnered 20.9 million views and over 3,000 comments, many from people of colour sharing similar experiences.
Consequently, caution in welcoming these AI tools into online brand engagement is necessary, especially as these viral moments proliferate. To anticipate growing concerns around AI (and to learn about its creative capacity), see Generative AI & the Creative Industries: The Road Ahead.