Before removing the filters, FaceApp CEO and Creator Yaroslav Goncharov said he didn’t think they were racist, but users accused FaceApp of digital blackface.
FaceApp this week pulled filters that allowed users to make themselves look Asian, Black, Caucasian, and Indian.
FaceApp uses artificial intelligence to “add a beautiful smile” to your mug, “get younger or older,” or swap genders. This race-based filters, however, did not sit well with a lot of people, who took to Twitter to criticize them as a form of digital blackface and yellowface.
In response to the backlash, FaceApp removed the filters, according to Engadget. But before that, FaceApp CEO and Creator Yaroslav Goncharov said he didn’t think the filters were racist.
“The ethnicity change filters have been designed to be equal in all aspects,” Goncharov told Engadget. “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.”
This isn’t the first time FaceApp has been accused of racism. In April, the app added a feature called “hot,” which was meant to make you more attractive, but it really just whitewashed people of color. FaceApp apologized for that blunder, but apparently learned nothing from it.
Snapchat also found itself in a similar controversy last summer when it briefly launched, then pulled, a filter that allowed users to transform their faces into what many deemed yellowface. Said lens gave those using it cartoony slanted eyes, puffy cheeks, and buck teeth. Snapchat has since removed the filter and has indicated that the company has no plans to re-release it at any future point.
[Images: Kaitlyn Wells, Alex Nichols]