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FaceApp, a website and application known for allowing users to change a person’s image with aging effects and other editing software, released “Black,” “Asian”, “Caucasian” and “Indian” race and ethnicity filters today that enabled users to change their skin tones and facial features.

The face-editing app subsequently said that it was in the process of removing the filters within a few hours of the release due to public criticism of the racist nature of the new features.

By associating a select few specific features and tones to certain races and ethnicities and using them to modify the user’s face, FaceApp perpetuates stereotypes and generalizations detrimental to the concept of diversity among those racial and ethnic groups. Moreover, it encourages racist actions, like blackface, to occur at the push of a button and presents the idea that already marginalized groups are entertaining commodities to be tried out as simple filters.

This is not the first time that the popular phone app has received criticism for filters they have released.

One filter, which is still available and has received backlash as a transphobic feature, is the gender-swap software, which alters one’s face to qualities that the company assumed should be deemed innately masculine or feminine and are therefore stereotypical of the binary genders.

In addition, FaceApp has a “hot mode” filter that lightens one’s skin tone and enlarges one’s eyes, establishing the idea that these features are needed to be physically attractive and reinforcing the racist concept that lighter skin is more desirable than darker skin. Instead of removing these features, FaceApp just changed the name of the “hot mode” filter to “spark.”

According to a company-affiliated response obtained by Mic and featured on The Telegraph, FaceApp’s chief executive, Yaroslav Goncharov, said that the app team designed the filters to be “equal.”

“The ethnicity change filters have been designed to be equal in all aspects. They don’t have any positive or negative connotations associated with them,” Goncharov said.

The company had not issued a formal apology or acknowledgment otherwise at the time this article became published.

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Savanna Vest
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Savanna Vest is a 17-year-old staff writer for the Affinity Magazine. She plans to study a social science while minoring in journalism when she attends college. She enjoys learning about history and current events and has passion in advocating for social justice issues. If she’s not hanging out with her friends and family or spending quality time with her pets, she can typically be found reading or communing with nature in her spare time. Twitter: @savannavest

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