After a massive backlash from users, the ethnicity filters had to be discontinued by FaceApp on the same day.
Neural network wasn’t at fault this time
Earlier this year, users forgave FaceApp once after the “hot” filter was released, which could be used to lighten the skin tone. At the time, the company was quick to take down the filter, with CEO Yaroslav Goncharov apologizing for it, saying that it was an “underlying neural network.” However, the ethnicity filters this time cannot be even distantly related to an artificial intelligence mistake.
This time again, Goncharov was at the front to defend the decision, stating that there are no positive or negative connotations linked to the filters. The CEO told TechCrunch that these filters are designed in a way that they are equal in all aspects.
However, following massive amounts of criticism, the CEO later said that the “new controversial features will be removed in the next few hours.” The CEO told CNNMoney that the feature would be removed from the company’s servers entirely so that users will not have to update their apps to remove the new option.
Racial parodying has proven costly for many other apps too. Last year, Snapchat was also subjected to backlash for creating filters which could change a face into a black or yellow face. But for those thinking that Snapchat learned its lesson, it did not. In August of the same year, Snapchat released another controversial feature known as the “anime” option, which turns the faces of people yellower and makes their eyes narrower and their teeth bigger. As expected, the company was again reprimanded for the filter, notes Slate.