FaceApp forced to pull ‘racist’ filters that allow ‘digital blackface’ | Technology

Popular AI-powered selfie program FaceApp was forced to pull new filters that allowed users to modify their pictures to look like different races, just hours after it launched it.

The app, which initially became famous for its features that let users edit images to look older or younger, or add a smile, launched the new filters around midday on Wednesday. They allowed a user to edit their image to fit one of four categories: Caucasian, Asian, Indian or Black.

Parker Molloy
(@ParkerMolloy)

FaceApp’s ‘ethnicity filters’ are a pretty terrible idea. Like, maybe one of the worst ideas. https://t.co/kV09pNpWRs


August 9, 2017

Users rapidly pointed out that the feature wasn’t particularly sensitively handled: technology site The Verge described it as “tantamount to a sort of digital blackface, ‘dressing up’ as different ethnicities”, while TechCruch said the app “seems to be getting a little too focused on races rather than faces”.

Alex Nichols
(@Lowenaffchen)

me and my three ethnically diverse half brothers unequivocally condemn the new faceapp filters pic.twitter.com/uMNfIrb73f


August 9, 2017

The company initially released a statement arguing that the “ethnicity change filters” were “designed to be equal in all aspects”.

“They don’t have any positive or negative connotations associated with them,” the company’s chief executive Yaroslav Goncharov said. “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.”

But by 5pm on the same day, FaceApp apparently agreed with the criticism, pulling the new filters from its app.

Lucas Matney
(@lucasmtny)

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


August 9, 2017

It’s not even the first time the app has waded into this storm. In April, it came under fire for its…

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