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
FaceApp, which has already been massively criticized for having a “hot mode” filter that whitened people's skin, recently made headlines again for offering filters that change users' skin tone, among other features.
Following criticism of the “blackface” filter, the app was forced to remove new attributes that allowed people to modify their pictures to look Asian, black, caucasian and Indian and to look younger or add a smile.
The filters could be compared to the practice of putting on “blackface” or “yellowface,” which often involve white people mimicking members of different ethnicities by putting on makeup and wearing wigs. The new features seemed to ignore that these activities often draw heavily from racist stereotypes.
App users accused the creators of racism. However, despite the backlash, the company’s CEO Yaroslav Goncharov initially denied the fact that the new features were racist.
“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,” he said.
However, he later released a statement agreeing with accusations and said they would pull the new filters off the app “in a few hours.”
The app has 40 million users across Android and iOS devices.
This is not the first time the app creators have landed in water. In April, a new filter known as “hot mode” was launched, also garnering backlash from users. The filter lightened people’s skin in order to make them “more attractive.”
FaceApp isn’t the first app to be embroiled in controversies. Recently, Snapchat faced criticism for introducing a Bob Marley filter to its app. Another Chinese photo editing app, Meitu, drew backlash and was accused of giving people a “yellowface.”
Everyone loves FaceApp, the phone app that adds smiles and wrinkles to your friends' faces!— Jennifer Unkle (@jbu3) August 9, 2017
We regret to inform you that FaceApp is racist pic.twitter.com/2tRSlcfWdc
me and my three ethnically diverse half brothers unequivocally condemn the new faceapp filters pic.twitter.com/uMNfIrb73f— Alex Nichols (@Lowenaffchen) August 9, 2017
faceapp now features the 4 races: white, black, asian, and jessica alba pic.twitter.com/rcyfZEH58U— Lana Del Raytheon (@LanaDelRaytheon) August 9, 2017
Faceapp, the app that added then removed a skin lightening filter, adds blackface/yellowface because they have learned nothing apparently. ?? https://t.co/ADQLxAYW8m— i'm upset (@vesaldi) August 9, 2017