Mirror, Mirror on the wall, who is the whitest of all? Racial biases in social media beauty filters

Authors: Riccio, P. , Colin, J. , Ogolla, S. , Oliver, N.

Publication: Social Media and Society , 2024

Digital beauty filters are pervasive in social media platforms. Despite their popularity and relevance in the selfies culture, there is little research on their characteristics and potential biases. In this paper, we study the existence of racial biases on the set of aesthetic canons embedded in social media beauty filters, which we refer to as the Beautyverse. First, we provide a historic contextualization of racial biases in beauty practices, followed by an extensive empirical study of racial biases in beauty filters through state-of-the-art face processing algorithms. We show that beauty filters embed Eurocentric or white canons of beauty, not only by brightening the skin color, but also by modifying facial features.