FaceApp apologizes for racist filter that changes colour of dark skinned people to white

It doesn't clarify or better the skin tone but lightens the colour – simply makes a black skin white.


Selfie-editing app FaceApp faced backlash after a racist filter was incorporated in the app. The app basically lets users take a selfie and then edit it in various ways. It offers a list of filters that can be added, which results into minor or drastic alteration to the selfie.

The list of shifting effects or filters of FaceApp even includes changing gender and reducing age. The app along with others also includes one filter, dubbed "Hotness", which radically lightens the skin colour to the level of being racist, pointed out one user, reported TechChrunch. The effect lightens the skin tone in order to achieve its mooted "beautifying" standards.

The said user, Terrance AB Johnson, tweeted his own picture before and after applying the "Hotness" filter and it shows radical difference in his skin tone. It doesn't clarify or better the skin tone but lightens the colour – simply makes a black skin, to white.

Some other users also took to the social media to point out FaceApp's racism.

"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. To mitigate the issue, we have renamed the effect to exclude any positive connotation associated with it. We are also working on the complete fix that should arrive soon," FaceApp's founder and CEO Yaroslav Goncharov said in an email to TechChrunch.

Following the backlash, the app has renamed the filter to "spark" instead of taking down the filter.

This article was first published on April 26, 2017