by Cara McGroogan (Telegraph)
A viral app that adds filters to users’ selfies to change their appearance has backtracked on its latest update after was accused of racism over its new range of ethnic filters.
FaceApp, which uses facial recognition to change users’ expressions and look, deleted its new “black”, “white”, “Asian” and “Indian” filters following a storm of criticism.
The update was met with an instant backlash from users on social media, who described it as “racist” and “offensive”.
The filter drew comparison with “blackface” and “yellowface”, the practice of white people donning makeup and dress to appear to be of a different ethnicity. The controversial practice is often associated with racist stereotypes.
The Russia-based company at first denied claims the new ethnic filters were racist, saying they do not have positive or negative stereotypes associated with them. It later added the “controversial” filters would be removed.
“The new controversial features will be removed in the next few hours,” said Yaroslav Goncharov, chief executive of FaceApp.
FaceApp has come under fire before for its controversial “hot mode” filter, which lightened people’s skin, enlarged their eyes and removed their glasses. It was forced to apologise to users and changed the name of the lens to “spark”.
The photo editing app, which uses neural networks to modify pictures of people while keeping them realistic, jumped to the top of the charts when it was released earlier this year.