Earlier this year, people complained about popular face-changing app FaceApp and its racially insensitive way of trying to “beautify” users by making their skin more white. After the “spark” filter was removed after fans commented on its lightening effect, you’d think the makers of the app would have learned their lesson. But yesterday, the app was at the center of controversy yet again after it released, and then quickly removed, a filter set that changed people’s race, including what some users are calling digital blackface.
While it may seem fun to try on a different look, many are pointing out the racism involved in Black, brown and yellow face.
Over the last few years, people have become more aware of the fact that imitating other people’s race or ethnic background are not acceptable forms of dressing up. Using an app that changes a person’s race from white to Black is the digital version of this.
FaceApp has 40 million installs across Android and iOS devices, and has recently started adding paid “style” filters designed to make users look better by adding elements like makeup or a hipster beard. According to Tech Crunch, FaceApp CEO Yaroslav Goncharov claimed that in creating the different “ethnic” filters (as opposed to the “style” filters), the company was hoping to make everyone equal, “in all aspects.”
In a statement, the company tried to defend the filters before deleting them. “They don’t have any positive or negative connotations associated with them,” 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.”
Regardless of intentions, it’s good to remember that people’s race and identity aren’t costumes — even in the form of a filter.
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(h/t Tech Crunch; photo via FaceApp)