August 09, 2017
You may remember a few months ago when your social media feeds were flooded with filtered selfies of your friends using the new photo-editing software FaceApp.
Those filters were harmless enough, using neural networks to edit selfies using filters that could morph gender, age and allegedly attractiveness. A lot of users' posts looked something like this:
During the app’s first wave of popularity, however, one of the filter options was pulled after a number of users reported that the so-called “hot” filter actually seemed more like a skin lightening filter – something Snapchat has also been found guilty of by its users.
That controversy wasn’t enough of a lesson for FaceApp, though, as a new set of filters was released Wednesday that enables users to transform using “Asian, Black, Caucasian and Indian” filters.
The new features have drawn ire and befuddlement from users, with some calling them a method of digital blackface.
they made faceapp racist for some reason pic.twitter.com/ITzTdL5kGC— ConorBoyes ⛄ (@ConorBoyes) August 9, 2017
Faceapp is now owned by the people who produced Ghost In the Shell— road tripping 🚐🌎🐇 (@acct_) August 9, 2017
Wow... FaceApp really setting the bar for racist AR with its awful new update that includes Black, Indian and Asian "race filters" pic.twitter.com/Lo5kmLvoI9— Lucas Matney (@lucasmtny) August 9, 2017
Everybody loves FaceApp, the app that makes you old!— Cutler Posadist (@CarlOrkmansen) August 9, 2017
*Five minutes later*
We regret to inform you that FaceApp is now racist pic.twitter.com/4WmBCKFuSx
Mic reached out to FaceApp CEO Yaroslav Goncharov following the updates.
“The ethnicity change filters have been designed to be equal in all aspects,” Goncharov said to Mic in an email.
“They don’t have any positive or negative connotations associated with them. They are even represented by the same icon. In addition to that, the list of those filters is shuffled for every photo, so each user sees them in a different order.”