by TRN Staff Writer,
FaceApp’s latest filters proved that on social media, people have no filter when they truly hate something. The popular app introduced a feature that allowed users to digitally alter their race and gender. So users could see what they look like as a Black, Asian, Indian or White person.
If the app only changed your skin tone, maybe it would have been acceptable (doubt it), but when deciding that all Black people have wider noses and enlarging teeth to fit an old Hollywood stereotype if you chose the Asian filter was a step too far.
Apparently the site didn’t see the problem when it rolled out the new feature. So users took to social media and demonstrated the problem with a tech savvy show n’ tell …
FaceApp has traveled this road before, back in April the addition of a “hot” filter made user’s skin tone look lighter—ok, Whiter. FaceApp founder Yaroslav Goncharov told HuffPost in defense of the changes “The ethnicity change filters have been designed to be equal in all aspects...” without any positive or negative connotations. The app’s tech is sound–functionality works. The problem was the human component which determined how to depict various races and that’s where prejudices slipped in. You know beauty and stereotypes are in the eye of the beholder. Maybe Goncharov doesn’t think wide noses, slanted eyes and bigger teeth are stereotypes.
An app that adds an overlay of a flower halo or cartoonish rabbit or kitten ears are cute and funny, but why would an app developer think changing your race was a good idea or even necessary for an app? There have been enough blunders in the arena of photographic filters to learn from the past mistakes of others. Remember that big Bob Marley meltdown after Snapchat introduced its filter that many called out as nothing more than “digital blackface”. Yet developers still sit in their socially isolated, digital worlds where they think its acceptable to be insensitive when it comes to race.
After all the pushback and slams of “racism”, FaceApp was working to remove all the controversial filters. That’s great for the short term, but let’s hope the next time someone says ‘wouldn’t it be cool or funny to see what you look like as a Black or Asian person’, app developers remember this…
And quickly realize the answer to that question is ‘No! No it wouldn’t be funny or cool’.