Incident 60: FaceApp Racial Filters

Description: FaceApp is criticized for offering racist filters.


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Alleged: FaceApp developed and deployed an AI system, which harmed Minority Groups.

Incident Stats

Incident ID
Report Count
Incident Date
Sean McGregor

CSETv0 Taxonomy Classifications

Taxonomy Details

Full Description

FaceApp, which uses facial recognition to change users' expressions and look, received a storm of criticism after releasing its new "black", "white", "Asian" and "Indian" filters. It received backlash on social media who described it as "racist" and "offensive". The photo editing app, which uses neural networks to modify pictures of people while keeping them realistic, was also criticized for the fact that its "hot" filter often lightens the skin of people with darker complexions.

Short Description

FaceApp is criticized for offering racist filters.



Harm Distribution Basis


Harm Type

Psychological harm

AI System Description

The facial recognition algorithm used by FaceApp, based on deep generative convolutional neural networks, which can edit selfies using filters and other tools.

System Developer


Sector of Deployment

Arts, entertainment and recreation

Relevant AI functions


AI Techniques

Facial recognition, convolutional neural networks

AI Applications

Facial recognition, image generation



Named Entities

FaceApp, Russia

Technology Purveyor


Beginning Date


Ending Date


Near Miss




Lives Lost


Data Inputs

Photos of faces · 2017

Looks like FaceApp, the new face-morphing craze, already needs a makeover.

Launched in January and hailing from Russia, FaceApp is catching interest for its artificial intelligence technology and intriguing filters that can make you look ol…

FaceApp deletes new black, white and Asian filters after racism storm · 2017

A viral app that adds filters to users' selfies to change their appearance has backtracked on its latest update after was accused of racism over its new range of ethnic filters.

FaceApp, which uses facial recognition to change users' expres…

FaceApp sorry for 'racist' filter that lightens skin to make users 'hot' · 2017

The makers of a face-morphing app have apologised after users accused them of creating a "racist" filter.

FaceApp can change portraits to make people look older, change gender or become "more attractive".

But when users with darker skin ton…

FaceApp Blames AI for Whitening up Black People · 2017

People who actually want to see their faces reflected in their phone screens have been having fun with FaceApp recently, with Facebook and Twitter currently overloaded with images of users sharing what they look like young, old and "hot" as…

That Viral 'FaceApp' Is Making Everyone Look Whiter · 2017

Twitter/Terrance AB Johnson

It happened—a tech company did a bad thing again. This time, it's the super popular face-morphing app called, wait for it…FaceApp.

For some reason unknown to me, FaceApp went gangbusters this week after launching…

FaceApp apologises for 'racist' filter that lightens users' skintone · 2017

The creator of an app which changes your selfies using artificial intelligence has apologised because its “hot” filter automatically lightened people’s skin.

FaceApp is touted as an app which uses “neural networks” to change facial characte…

FaceApp Removes 'Spark' Filter Following Whitewashing Accusations · 2017

A selfie app that renders users’ faces in varying styles removed one of its filters following criticism that it Whitewashed the faces of people of color.

Mic reports that after receiving complaints, FaceApp developers first changed the func…

FaceApp: Experts have privacy concerns about popular face transformation app · 2017

FaceApp: Experts have privacy concerns about popular face transformation app


FaceApp has gone viral. Why? Because it lets you transform your face in hilarious ways.

But privacy advocates warn you could be giving up much more informa…

How Does FaceApp Work? Here's How You Can Get In On The Viral Face Mashing Trend · 2017

Social media is awash right now in selfies with weirdly realistic facial transformations thanks to a viral app, appropriately called “FaceApp.” FaceApp lets users add filters to faces to make them smile, age, and change gender, with a surpr…

How popular smartphones make your skin look 'whiter' in selfies · 2017

Shona Ghosh/Business Insider Beauty filters on popular smartphones turn you paler in selfies

If you own a phone which runs Android, the chances are it has a camera setting you don’t know about.

Popular smartphones like the Samsung Galaxy S8…

Photo-editing app FaceApp updates with Asian, Black, Caucasian and Indian filters · 2017

On Wednesday morning, the photo-editing app FaceApp released new photo filters that change the ethnic appearance of your face.

The app first became popular earlier in 2017 due to its ability to transform people into elderly versions of them…

Popular face-aging app now offers ‘Black,’ ‘Indian,’ and ‘Asian’ filters · 2017

FaceApp’s CEO says: “The new controversial filters will be removed in the next few hours.”

You might remember FaceApp — a selfie-editing app that transforms users’ pictures by making them look older, younger, or giving them an artificial sm…

FaceApp Removes Black, Asian, and Indian Filters After Backlash They Should Have Expected · 2017

Remember FaceApp, the smartphone app that, among other things, allows you to add a filter to your face to make you look younger or older? The one that somehow fascinates every single person you know and encourages them to post photos on the…

FaceApp removes 'Ethnicity Filters' after racism storm · 2017

A viral app that added Asian, Black, Caucasian and Indian filters to people's selfies has removed them after being accused of racism.

The update which launched yesterday was met with backlash - with many people criticising it for propagatin…

FaceApp forced to pull 'racist' filters that allow 'digital blackface' · 2017

AI-powered program allowed users to edit selfies to fit into ‘Caucasian, Asian, Indian or Black’ categories causing outrage and immediate U-turn

Popular AI-powered selfie program FaceApp was forced to pull new filters that allowed users to …

FaceApp releases change-your-race filters · 2017

FaceApp boss Yaroslav Goncharov has defended the new filters. "The ethnicity change filters have been designed to be equal in all aspects."

​FaceApp, an app that uses neural networks to transform your selfies in some rather eerie ways, has …

FaceApp briefly let users change their skin color. Bad idea. · 2017

FaceApp’s racial filters lived only briefly, but they should never have happened in the first place.


For a brief moment on Wednesday, FaceApp—the app that went viral in April for taking a photo of someone’s face and making them look…

FaceApp's Indian and Black photo filters are quite obviously racist · 2017

Popular photo filter application, FaceApp, which allows users to take selfies and then add fun filters to them to change their appearance by adding a range of photo filters, faced major backlash after its developers on August 9 rolled out a…

FaceApp Launches Digital Blackface Options Because The World Is Filled With Idiots · 2017

This really isn't that hard, people. Just last year, Snapchat apologised for adding an offensive Bob Marley selfie filter to its stable. Now, FaceApp — the silly photo editor you probably downloaded in March and totally forgot about — has o…

FaceApp Is Being Called "Racist" Again for Featuring Problematic Filters · 2017

Remember that viral face-filtering app, FaceApp, that was accused of being racist after featuring a filter called "Hot" that actually lightened people's skin](…

'Racist' FaceApp photo filters encouraged users to black up · 2017

FaceApp has removed a number of racially themed photo filters after being accused of racism.

The app, which uses artificial intelligence to edit pictures, this week launched a number of “ethnicity change filters”.

They claimed to show users…

FaceApp Ethnicity Filters Make You Look Like a Different Race · 2017


In recent months, FaceApp has been a fun app you’ve probably seen on your social media feeds, letting you and your friends morph faces to look older, younger, or smiling when you frown. You can even see what you’d look like if you p…

FaceApp Introduced Blackface And Yellowface Selfie Filters, Then Removed Them A Few Hours Later · 2017

"New filters: Asian, Black, Caucasian, Indian." WHAT. Update: Faceapp has removed the four new filters.

Remember FaceApp? Back in April, it was a suddenly popular Internet Thing(™) that would make your face look like you were a baby, an old…


A "variant" is an incident that shares the same causative factors, produces similar harms, and involves the same intelligent systems as a known AI incident. Rather than index variants as entirely separate incidents, we list variations of incidents under the first similar incident submitted to the database. Unlike other submission types to the incident database, variants are not required to have reporting in evidence external to the Incident Database. Learn more from the research paper.

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