It’s not even Halloween yet, but a recent update to the photo filtering app, FaceApp, had more people in blackface than October 31st itself.
On Wednesday, FaceApp users received a notification informing them they’d be able to imitate other ethnicities through new Asian, Black, Caucasian and Indian filters. The FaceApp team soon found themselves in hot water. Twitter users wasted no time in calling out the app’s use of race as a tool of beauty modification.
(FaceApp board meeting)
"Our app is popular."
"What if it could be more popular?"
(Everyone leans in)
"Get this: racism."
— Good King Tweetman (@Goodtweet_man) August 9, 2017
— Kaitlyn Wells Axson 👩🏽💻🐱🐶📱 (@KaitWells) August 9, 2017
The #faceapp ppl thought it was a grand idea to launch new race-swapping filters but no, the tech industry could not benefit from diversity.
— Esoteric Sophia (@ishtarinbrief) August 9, 2017
And because Twitter never seems to disappoint, Rachel Dolezal was par for the course when the jokes started flying.
Amidst all the backlash, FaceApp founder and CEO Yaroslav Goncharov initially defended its incorporation of race into the app in a statement to HuffPost.
“The ethnicity change filters have been designed to be equal in all aspects,” Goncharov said. “They don’t have any positive or negative connotations associated with them. They are even represented by the same icon. In addition to that, the list of those filters is shuffled for every photo, so each user sees them in a different order.”
But continued backlash over the next few hours found Goncharov less defensive and a bit more contrite.