"On a picture of a friend of mine it lightened her skin."
FaceApp, a face-changing filter company, has apologised after one of its features drew accusations of racism. The FaceApp filter in question allegedly makes dark-skinned users fairer.
Their apology comes after many called out the company for the supposedly “racist” filter, which FaceApp claims it changes users’ appearances to look more attractive. The company dubbed it as their “hot” filter.
It’s part of a whole range of features which enable users to change their gender, overall appearance and even make them look older.
However, many users of the FaceApp filter have left scathing reviews on social media. They claim the filter lightens skin colour. For example, one person claimed:
“On a picture of a friend of mine it lightened her skin, took away her glasses, and changed all of her features so that she was unrecognisable.”
Some even showed their results of using the feature, tweeting their displeasure of the app. @RealMoseby96 revealed how the FaceApp filter completely changed his appearance:
— Shahquelle L. (@RealMoseby96) April 20, 2017
Others also flocked to the social media app to show the drastic changes they found when using the filter. One even suggested it made look him “your opinion of European”:
— Terrance AB Johnson (@tweeterrance) April 19, 2017
@Caitofthenorth also tweeted that the app even removed her glasses!:
— Cait? (@Caitofthenorth) April 25, 2017
As a result of the huge furore created on Twitter, FaceApp appeared quick to issue an apology and try to fix the problem. They released a statement made by the CEO Yaroslav Goncharov. He said:
“We are deeply sorry for this unquestionably serious issue. It is an unfortunate side-effect of the underlying neural network caused by the training set bias, not intended behaviour.”
This kind of app filter would probably be popular in South Asian countries where they think fair is beautiful and may take it with a ‘pinch of salt’.
But it could also result in insults and heartaches for those who are darker skinned, especially, South Asian women. When using such a filter, they could be victims of ridicule due to their skin colour versus how they would look if more fairer, as shown by the FaceApp filter.
Since the controversy came to light, the company has renamed the feature “spark” and attempts to fix the app’s system. How this system fix changes the feature and the app at large could determine its later success.
This doesn’t mark this first an app has gotten into trouble over racism claims. In 2016, Snapchat removed the “yellowface” filter, which turned users into stereotypical-looking Asians.
Therefore, it seems the companies of this face-altering apps need to ensure they remain respective with their filters.