FaceApp is a popular Android and iOS app that allows you to easily edit pictures of people. It lets you do things like add a smile to a person's face, see what they'd look like if they were older or younger, and even allows you to change the gender of the person in the photo.
On Wednesday night, the company added a new feature that allowed you to change the ethnicity of the person in the picture, and the results were pretty startling actually. The app allowed you to choose between four options: Indian, Black, Asian, and Caucasian.
In a sense, the idea is interesting - give people from around the world a chance to imagine themselves as being from any race. The app is developed by Russian company Wireless Lab 000, which had earlier faced a negative reaction for a "Hot" filter, which consistently lightened the skin tone of users. In that case, the company had blamed an AI training error, however the creators were clearly not expecting the backlash, as it was received with reactions of outrage.
ah yes exactly what our racist country needs. Great update face app! pic.twitter.com/G75I87TIvg— maddy a (@albrightmaddy) August 9, 2017
The developers removed the new feature from the app in short order - as with Prisma, here too, the filters are on the cloud, so even if you don't update the app, you lost the option. Today, you still have the gender-swap option, and you can still add a smile, or age-up or de-age the photo. The four race based options have been completely removed however.
Ironically, this shift has prompted a fresh wave of outrage against the app. Most of the recent ratings you see are 1-star ratings - first, from users unhappy that these filters even exist, and then from users who were angry that they were removed.