Wildly Popular FaceApp Adds (Then Almost Immediately Removes) Racist Filters

When will they learn?

You would’ve thought that after a series of similar PR fails (see Snapchat’s Bob Marley filter), companies would have learned by now not to try and change a person’s race using technology.

While we’re all keen to see how selfie-editing apps can make us look like an elderly pensioner or with fluorescent pink hair, we’re definitely not here for racial filters.

And that is exactly what popular FaceApp, has been accused of doing after releasing a software update on Wednesday morning that lets users change their selfies to ‘black’, ‘Indian’ or ‘Asian’ - yes you read that correctly.


Once you select an option, the app not only alters your skin tone but also transforms your hair colour and some specific facial features.

Despite only being live for 24 hours, the internet is already pretty outraged.

In response to the (inevitable) backlash, CEO Yaroslav Goncharov told The Verge: “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.”

But people still weren’t buying it, so the company agreed to remove the filters almost as quickly as they put them up.

This isn’t the first time that the app has been in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons.

Back in April of this year, the company was called up on the ‘hotness’ feature that allowed people to improve their appearance, but always resulted in their skin tone being lightened.

At the time Goncharov blamed the ‘training bias’ of the underlying AI network, meaning that because the software is fed data that is predominantly pictures of white people, it automatically associated that with ‘hotness’.

You might need to come up with some new excuses guys.


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