The short-lived filters were created to let users see what they might look like as a member of another race.
But in its most recent update, the app also added a series of "ethnicity change filters" called "Black", "Asian", "Indian", or "Caucasian". This isn't the first time FaceApp has featured a quad photo design, as the photo app made waves in February of this year when it debuted a feature that augments your face to look older or younger, and even allowed you to change your gender presentation.
The feature prompted users to alter selfies with "black", "Indian" and "Asian" filters.
Having the same activities being turned into an option in a popular app may prompt many to wonder whether the feature's creators were either unaware of the implications of these filters or simply willing to have the filters there regardless of the consequences.
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However, regardless of FaceApp's intentions, it's safe to say the filters are a pretty blatant case of digital blackface, yellowface, and brownface. Here we see my original photos in the top row, with filters for "Caucasian" in the bottom-left and "Asian" in the bottom right. Lucy Yang/INSIDER FaceApp's "Black" filter.
In a statement to Cosmopolitan before the filters were removed, CEO Yaroslav Goncharov insisted they weren't racist.
The ethnicity change filters have been created to be equal in all aspects. "It is an unfortunate side-effect of the underlying neural network caused by the training set bias, not intended behaviour", Goncharov told the Guardian. While this may seem like harmless fun, it's important to keep in mind that blackface originated as a form of racist entertainment, rooted in harmful stereotypes.
You may remember when Snapchat came under fire for its Bob Marley filter, which some felt was essentially blackface.
Clearly, my "face swaps" make me look like ambiguous depictions of white and Asian people.