A viral app called FaceApp, which uses facial recognition to change a users’ expressions and look, has had to backtrack on its latest update following accusations of racism.
The Russian selfie app has added filters that mimic the appearance of black, east Asian, Indian and white people. I’m not sure who passed this and how the idea got verified, but predictably there was a huge backlash, forcing it to pull the new filter just hours after it was launched.
The app initially started out by allowing users to look older or younger or add a smile – all pretty innocent. However, yesterday they introduced the racial filter and people were not happy. One commenter likened it to white movie characters in the 20s “rubbing shoe polish on their face”. Here are just some of the comments:
Faceapp should make a filter that preemptively applies the cringe-face I get reading about its racial filters pic.twitter.com/531uUHcCvp
— Julia Carrie Wong (@juliacarriew) August 9, 2017
(FaceApp board meeting)
"Our app is popular."
"What if it could be more popular?"
(Everyone leans in)
"Get this: racism."
— Good Tweetman (@Goodtweet_man) August 9, 2017
— nadialiii (@Nadialiii) August 9, 2017
me and my three ethnically diverse half brothers unequivocally condemn the new faceapp filters pic.twitter.com/uMNfIrb73f
— Alex Nichols (@Lowenaffchen) August 9, 2017
— Kaitlyn Wells (@KaitWells) August 9, 2017
Whoops. FaceApp tried to explain the meaning behind the update:
The ethnicity change filters have been designed to be equal in all aspects. 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.
Regardless of these comments, by 5pm on the same day the makers had pulled the new filter from its app. Hopefully that’s a serious lesson learned.
For an app that isn’t offensive and is genuinely useful, check this new one that tells you where your nearest Buckfast retailer is anywhere in the world. Handy.