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FaceApp probably didn't think its new "ethnicity filters" all the way through
10 August 2017, 05:12 | Jodi Jackson
FaceApp uses facial recognition to alter people's appearance
Recent reviews for the app in the Google Play Store have included comments referring to the latest update as "racist" and "not okay".
This isn't the first time FaceApp has received backlash; when it introduced a "hot mode" filter that lightened the user's skin, removed their glasses and enlarged their eyes, many erupted in anger.
"The ethnicity change filters have been created to be equal in all aspects".
FaceApp creator Yaroslav Goncharov defended the decision to add race-based filters in an interview with Mic where he said that none of the filters were created to be derogatory toward any individual race or ethnicity. "They are even represented by the same icon", Goncharov wrote.
However, regardless of FaceApp's intentions, it's safe to say the filters are a pretty blatant case of digital blackface, yellowface, and brownface. The "Indian" filter was practically the same as the original selfie.
It's a truly weird move for FaceApp, especially since the CEO apologized for "the unquestionably serious issue" of its whitewashing "Hot" filter just earlier this year. It can make your face look older or younger, for example, or make a woman's face look like a man's. "In addition to that, the list of those filters is shuffled for every photo, so each user sees them in a different order".
"We are deeply sorry for this unquestionably serious issue", Goncharov told The Guardian in April. Unfortunately, though FaceApp has already endured its own controversy, its misguided efforts to correct them... aren't a great look. 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. (There was also the 4/20 filter that gave users a "Bob Marley" mask for their selfes.) The company's CEO, Yaroslav Goncharov, quickly apologized for the earlier problems, and promised to fix the behavior.
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