The 'ethnicity filters' update added four categories: Caucasian, Asian, Indian or Black
Selfie mobile program FaceApp has pulled its new filters that allowed users to modify their pictures to look like different races.
The Russian company’s app is known for letting users to edit image to look older, younger, happier or sadder – amongst others. FaceApp’s new ‘ethnicity filters’ had provided users with four new categories: Caucasian, Asian, Indian or Black.
Launched on Wednesday, the new filters were available for only a few hours before users started calling the app out for racism.
The Verge described it as “tantamount to a sort of digital blackface, ‘dressing up’ as different ethnicities”, while TechCruch said the app “seems to be getting a little too focused on races rather than faces”.
FaceApp released a statement arguing that the ‘ethnicity change filters’ were “designed to be equal in all aspects”.
“They don’t have any positive or negative connotations associated with them,” the company’s chief executive Yaroslav Goncharov said. “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.”
However at 5pm on the same day, the company pulled the new filters.
In April 2017, the app was also slammed for its ‘hot’ filter that offered to make users more attractive by lightening their complexion.
Last year Snapchat also came under fire for its ‘yellowface’ filter.
RIP FaceApp pic.twitter.com/WqWJKDdBYT
— Kyle Jaeger (@kylejaeger) August 9, 2017
Can’t believe FaceApp added filters for different races. So offensive! Anyway, here’s me: pic.twitter.com/ZF6lD213d9
— Ethan Booker (@Ethan_Booker) August 9, 2017
I got an alert for an app I have never used. I couldn’t believe it. Why on earth is this OK?! #FaceApp #blackface pic.twitter.com/zDSTxXUFTQ
— Kaitlyn Wells (@KaitWells) August 9, 2017