It’s always nice when you can see the full arc of a terrible idea play out in a short span of time, from initial, overly confident execution, to almost-immediate backlash, to being forced to flee in shame. (Sociologists call this ”The Jägerbomb Effect.”) Case in point: four new “ethnicity” filters that were released for the popular image manipulation program FaceApp today, which purported to allow users to see what they’d look like if they were “Caucasian,” “black,” “Indian,” and “Asian.” You know, for fun.
The online outrage was pretty much immediate, with one crowd arguing “It’s just silly fun,” and the other, much larger one labeling the app digital blackface. Bowing to the pressure, FaceApp’s parent company, Russia’s Wireless Lab, has already pulled the feature, less than 12 hours after issuing the update, which we have to assume is some sort of record.
This isn’t the first time FaceApp has gotten into trouble for its approach to skin color, either; earlier this year, the company was blasted online because one of its filters translated “hot” to mean “having whiter skin.” (There was also the 4/20 filter that gave users a “Bob Marley” mask for their selfes.) The company’s CEO, Yaroslav Goncharov, quickly apologized for the earlier problems, and promised to fix the behavior.