So. In an idea that somehow was approved by many people to the point where it became reality, the Russian selfie app FaceApp has added filters that mimic the appearance of white, black, east Asian, or Indian people. In other words, you know, blackface, yellowface, brownface.
You know how sometimes you'll be watching an old movie and a white character will rub shoe polish on their face out of like NOWHERE and you're like, gulp, the 1920s were a truly awful and regressive time period? Well, it is 2017 and this is apparently still happening, now with a digital upgrade.
It seems like, well, a LOT for an app that mostly people used to quickly manipulate pictures to appear like they were smiling, or elderly, or of a different gender. And it's not even the first time FaceApp has been accused of racism; some users accused the company of racism when it proceeded to dramatically lighten skin tone with its "hot" filter.
(FaceApp board meeting)— Good Tweetman (@Goodtweet_man) August 9, 2017
"Our app is popular."
"What if it could be more popular?"
(Everyone leans in)
"Get this: racism."
That's two racist controversies in the app's history, and it's only been around since January 2017. Yikes.
In a statement to BuzzFeed, FaceApp explained the new filters. "The ethnicity change filters have been designed to be equal in all aspects," they 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."
"The 'Spark' filter was quite a different case. It implied a positive transformation and therefore, it was unacceptable for an algorithm to implicitly change the ethnicity origin," FaceApp added.
The statement still doesn't answer my questions about the filters, which are mostly "What?! Why?!"