FaceApp CEO Apologizes for the ‘Hot’ Whitening Filter That Users Called Racist

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By Masha Froliak | 2:21 pm, April 25, 2017
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The founder of the viral FaceApp was forced to apologize after users criticized one of the filters for being racist.

The popular app, which promises to “transform your face using AI in just one tap” left many unhappy after the filter named “hot” appeared to whiten the skin.

The app offers several face-morphing options like adding a smile to your selfie, making you look younger or older, or even swapping your gender, but it’s the filter that adds a glow to the skin tone that caused the racism storm.

Yaroslav Goncharov, the creator and CEO of FaceApp apologized for the “unfortunate side-effect” blaming AI for “set bias”. Goncharov wrote,

We are deeply sorry for this unquestionably serious issue…It is an unfortunate side-effect of the underlying neural network caused by the training set bias, not intended behavior.

The whitening filter is still available when you download FaceApp, but it was renamed from “hot” to “spark” in order to “exclude any positive connotation associated with it,” Goncharov said.

Launched in February, FaceApp went viral in the last several weeks. This is not the first time an app that modifies facial features has been attacked. In March Snapchat’s “Women’s Day” filters drew ire for lightening users’ skin and “sexualizing them”. Snapchat was also previously slammed for their “yellowface” and “Bob Marley” filters.