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FaceApp Removes ‘Racist’ Filters After Backlash Over ‘Digital Blackface’

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FaceApp, a popular photo application that includes a range of filters, is pulling the new “ethnicity filters” after social media users declare that the feature is offensive. The filters allowed users to alter their selfies to reflect different ethnicities including “Asian,” “black,” and “Indian,” a move that many considered racist.

As reported by The Guardian, FaceApp became popular for its image editing abilities that allowed users to adjust their selfies to make them look younger or older, add a smile, or see themselves as the opposite gender. The new “ethnicity filters” gave people the ability to change their photos based on four categories: Asian, Black, Caucasian, and Indian.

Many considered the feature in poor taste, with The Verge, a technology site, describing the options as “tantamount to a sort of digital blackface, ‘dressing up’ and different ethnicities.”

Numerous social media users took a hard stance against the filters, expressing their disgust with “FaceApp’s new incredibly racist features,” and wondering, “Who okayed this disaster?” One stated, “FaceApp’s ‘ethnicity filters’ are a pretty terrible idea. Like, maybe, one of the worst ideas.”

Another user on Twitter suggested the company was “setting the bar for racist [augmented reality] with its awful new update,” while a third stated, “Me and my three ethnically diverse half brothers unequivocally condemn the new faceapp filters.”

FaceApp initially released a statement saying the new filters were “designed to be equal in all aspects.” Yaroslav Goncharov stated, “[The ethnicity filters] don’t have any positive or negative connotations associated with them,” continuing, “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.”

By the evening of the original release day, FaceApp decided to pull the filters after criticism spread. Within a few hours of making that determination, the filters were no longer available to users.

This isn’t the first instance where a FaceApp filter drew negative attention. In April, the app’s “hot” filter came under fire after making user’s complexions lighter as part of a process that supposedly made them more attractive.