Snapchat accused of whitewashing its users through ‘beautify’ filter

snapchat white wash flower crown filter
@danradcliffed/Twitter
First, there was the Bob Marley blackface feature, and now, there’s the alleged skin-lightening filter. Snapchat, it seems, is having a bit of trouble when it comes to racial sensitivity. A number of Snapchat users have recently lambasted the popular social media app for filters that seem to make users’ complexions seem whiter. Particularly problematic, some users note, is the association of words like “pretty” and beauty” with lightness.

For Coachella, Snapchat debuted a flower crown filter that does indeed whitewash the entire photo or video in question, but Snapchatters are also taking issue with “beautify,” a filter that makes the skin lighter, the face slimmer, the eyes wider, and blemishes disappear. When one Yahoo beauty editor tried out the filter for herself, she noted, “The filter gave her a significantly lighter complexion, a more narrow jaw and nose, and even turned her brown eyes nearly blue.” But the effects were a bit less noticeable on a colleague, who said that her own “change was fairly subtle. The filter evened out her skin tone and added pink and yellow hues to her complexion.”

All the same, some users seem none too pleased by the fact that Snapchat is imposing a pretty standardized definition of being “pretty” or “attaining beauty.”

But others have been much more forgiving of the photo- and video-sharing app, comparing many of the filters to those used by Instagram or other editing tools to simply smooth over imperfections and enhance photographs. Really, some users say, the filters are practically like using your camera’s flash, as it doesn’t only affect your skin, but really the entirety of the photograph.

Snapchat has yet to respond to the latest outcry over its features, but it should be noted that it’s not the only company to produce a filter that purports to “beautify” your photos by way of lightening them. Last year, Xiaomi also came under fire for a “beautify” feature on a smartphone camera that was effectively a skin-lightening tool.

Product Review

With outstanding image quality, the ‘basic’ Sony A7 III excels in every way

Replacing the four-year-old A7 II as the new entry-level model in Sony's full-frame line, the A7 III is an impressively capable camera that gives more expensive models a run for their money.
Movies & TV

'Prime'-time TV: Here are the best shows on Amazon Prime right now

There's more to Amazon Prime than free two-day shipping, including access to a number of phenomenal shows at no extra cost. To make the sifting easier, here are our favorite shows currently streaming on Amazon Prime.
Home Theater

Put your home theater to the test with these spectacular Blu-ray releases

What's the point of having all of that awesome home theater gear if you can't breed a little jealousy in your friends and family? We've put together this list of fantastic Blu-rays that have the goods to drop a few jaws.
Mobile

The 100 best Android apps turn your phone into a jack-of-all-trades

Choosing which apps to download is tricky, especially given how enormous and cluttered the Google Play Store has become. We rounded up 100 of the best Android apps and divided them neatly, with each suited for a different occasion.
Wearables

Check out 25 of the best Wear OS apps for your smartwatch

Looking for some ways to spruce up that new Android smartwatch of yours? Here are the best Wear OS apps to download and use with any Android smartwatch, including a few specially enhanced for Wear OS 2.0.
Photography

See the National Forests like never before in these awe-inspiring drone videos

What's the difference between a National Park and a National Forest? Drones. With no ban on drones in National Forests -- at least, not yet -- filmmakers have a way to capture the immensity of these locations with stunning results.
Product Review

Airselfie 2 may as well be a GoPro stapled to a drunk hummingbird

On paper, the Airselfie 2 is marketed as flying photographer that fits in your pocket and snaps selfies from the sky. Unfortunately it’s more like a HandiCam controlled by a swarm of intoxicated bumblebees
Social Media

Addicted to Instagram? Its new ‘activity dashboard’ is here to help

Ever get that nagging feeling you're spending too much time on Instagram? Well, a new "activity dashboard" has a bunch of features designed to help you better control how you use the addictive photo-sharing app.
Photography

Photography news: Best spot for fall photos, new firmware from Fuji and Nikon

Where's the best spot to take fall photos? Michigan, according to social media and a Nikon contest. The results and more in this week's photography news, including significant firmware updates for the Fujifilm X-T3, X-H1, and GFX 50S.
Mobile

How to take great photos with the Pixel 3, the best camera phone around

You’ve scored yourself a new Google Pixel 3 or Pixel 3 XL, and you want to take advantage of that incredible camera. We’ve got everything you need to know right here about how to snap the best photos with your Pixel 3.
Emerging Tech

DJI Mavic 2 Pro vs Mavic 2 Zoom: What’s the real difference?

DJI's Mavic 2 series drones are ready to fly -- but which one is right for you? The Mavic 2 Pro and Mavic 2 Zoom are nearly identical save for their cameras. Here's what you need to know about these powerful new UAVs.
Product Review

DJI has always been the king of drones, and the new Mavics are almost perfect

After flying both the Mavic 2 Pro and Mavic 2 Zoom for over a week, we’re convinced that these are two of the best drones that DJI has ever made.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: A.I. selfie drones, ‘invisible’ wireless chargers

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!