FaceApp Is Being Called "Racist" Again for Featuring Problematic Filters

FaceApp's ill-advised new update adds 'ethnicity filters'

Face filters are an admittedly hard technology to navigate from a cultural standpoint, but there have been enough controversies with apps like MSQRD (acquired by Facebook) and Snapchat for young startups to learn from and avoid making mistakes.

While the app is popularly known for using artificial intelligence to make users smile, appear a different age, or even a different gender, these new filters take selfie editing into racist territory.

"The ethnicity change filters have been created to be equal in all aspects", Goncharov said. "They don't have any positive or negative connotations associated with them", he said. Now, FaceApp - the silly photo editor you probably downloaded in March and totally forgot about - has outdone Snapchat by throwing in options for people to virtually switch between multiple races. No. They are even represented by the same icon.

The viral app now allows users to change their looks with "black", "white", "Indian", and "Asian" filters, prompting a wide variety of users and others to respond with outrage.

FaceApp's "Asian" filter. Lucy Yang/INSIDER FaceApp's "Caucasian" filter.

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When the company launched past year, there were some reports that filters created to make users look "hotter" was just, in fact, making them whiter. Lucy Yang/INSIDER FaceApp's "Black" filter. Lucy Yang/INSIDER FaceApp's "Indian" filter.

In the name of self-loathing journalism and also curiosity about what these filters look like on people of color (blah blah hypocrisy), I downloaded FaceApp and applied the filters. Here's what they looked like when I ran a photo of myself through the face filters.

Not to mention Snapchat has received similar criticism in the past for its Bob Marley and "anime-inspired" filters, which users called "digital blackface" and "yellowface", respectively. With that in mind, here's how Twitter is handling FaceApp's racial new filters.

"We are deeply sorry for this unquestionably serious issue", Goncharov told The Guardian in April. While this may seem like harmless fun, it's important to keep in mind that blackface originated as a form of racist entertainment, rooted in harmful stereotypes.