Instagram photo-editing app, Gradient, comes under fire for its racially insensitive features that supports blackface
Read the room
In the fight for change and solidarity standing against systemic racism and colourism, there will always be a few who are tone-deaf and misaligned, despite the outpouring of resources and educational tools available. Joining the list of those who are problematical and lack commitment to aid in this fight for justice is one particular photo editing app, Gradient.
Besides offering up run-of-the-mill photo editing tools and filters, the app has recently launched a new controversial feature, AI Face. According to their website, this feature supposedly allows users to 'find out how you would look if you were born on a different continent'. Using artificial intelligence, users are able to 'alter' their ethnicities with 'continent' filters. This feature is disturbingly contentious as it not only perpetuates dehumanising stereotypes, but is also racist as it allows Gradient users to portray (digital) blackface, brownface and yellowface. The act of blackface, brownface, yellowface or any other portrayal of a skin tone that is not theirs is demeaning and offensive as these users have not faced the same struggles and oppression as the ethnicity that is not theirs.
In another bizarre demonstration of insensitivity and lack of perception, the feature was promoted on social media by Keeping Up with the Kardashians stars, Scott Disick and Brody Jenner, who altered themselves to natives of 'Africa', 'Asia', 'India' and 'Europe' with the app. After receiving a flood of backlash from Twitter, the tweets were deleted before being re-uploaded with an added hashtag to indicate the sponsored content. Comments on the posts have been disabled on both Twitter and Instagram. Besides condemning the two celebrities for their lack of racial sensitivity and awareness, users on social media were also quick to point out inaccuracies within the feature, such as the geographical blunder (India is part of Asia, FYI), and the fact that ethnicity and nationality holds different meanings.
Gradient has yet to respond or make a statement regarding its controversies.