Remember that viral face-filtering app, FaceApp, that was accused of being racist after featuring a filter called “Hot” that actually lightened people’s skin](https://www.allure.com/story/faceapp-accused-of-racism-with-skin-whitening-feature)? Well, somehow they’ve managed to one-up themselves and are being called out again, this time for creating filters that are intentionally meant to change a person’s race when in use.
The virtual reality app had its 15 minutes of fame last spring, when people were suuuuper into the idea of taking photos of themselves as old people and seeing what their babies would look like (simpler times, folks). The app’s first controversy hit in April when users realized the “Hot” filter was visibly lightening their skin in photos. Then on Wednesday, the app released an update that included new filters, titled “Caucasian,” “Black,” “Indian” and “Asian,” Buzzfeed reports.
According to Buzzfeed, which did its own experiments with the feature, users who take a selfie and select an ethnicity filter will be left with a resulting image that’s been altered in terms of its features and skin tone. Of course, Twitter was quick to point out this is hugely problematic on pretty much every level.
“Im glad faceapp, that fun app we all used for 24 hours, just invented black face as a cool retro comeback attempt,” Tweeted one user. “… FaceApp, please do not do this,” pleaded another.
“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,” a representative from FaceApp told Buzzfeed in a statement. “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.”
This set of filters, they assert, is not at all the same as their first round of controversial filters for one very specific reason. “The ‘Spark’ filter was quite a different case. It implied a positive transformation and therefore, it was unacceptable for an algorithm to implicitly change the ethnicity origin,” they said in the same statement that many would interpret as establishing the company’s poor track record on the intersection of filters and race.
…Let’s just say, Twitter still isn’t convinced.
We’ll keep you posted on whether FaceApp decides to remove its new filters — or if they just keep coming out with more of them.
Read about makeup that makes you look filtered — in a non-problematic way:
- The M.A.C. Next to Nothing Face Colour Is Like a Filter for Your Face
- ColourPop Is Coming Out With a “No Filter” Concealer
- The Milk Makeup Blur Stick Is Like a Snapchat Filter for Your Face