FaceApp should have taken a hint from the backlash it received in April for filters that artificially lightened users’ skin to make them, in the company’s own words, ”more attractive.”
Spoiler: It didn’t.
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
Mic reported yesterday (August 9) that the company introduced an update that morning that included “Asian, Black, Caucasian and Indian” filters. The critical tweets above and below demonstrate how the filters artificially alter skin and features to render them stereotypically Black, White, East/Southeast Asian and South Asian:
— Kaitlyn Wells (@KaitWells) August 9, 2017
— #SterekStrong (@bhadpodcast) August 9, 2017
FaceApp CEO Yaroslav Goncharov apologized for the earlier Whitewashing filter and attributed it to ”an unfortunate side-effect of the underlying neural network caused by the training set bias, not intended behavior.” He took a different approach this time around, telling The Guardian that the filters were “designed to be equal in all aspects.”
“They don’t have any positive or negative connotations associated with them,” he added. “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.”
Roughly five hours after his statement was published, Goncharov told Mic that “the new controversial filters will be removed in the next few hours.” They are no longer available to users, and Goncharov has not yet explained the reason for their withdrawal
Snapchat faced similar backlash last year when a filter added dreadlocks and darkened users’ skin in “honor” of Bob Marley and marijuana advocacy holiday 4/20.