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TikTok was changing people’s faces without their permission

Thankfully, it seems TikTok is no longer doing this.

tiktok logo in 3d
Image: Unsplash

When you get on TikTok, there’s a good chance the videos you are watching include some type of filter. Some people might change the color of the lighting, smooth their skin a bit, or completely change how they look. The important part to remember is that they chose to use the filter.

While we can talk about the implications of beauty filters on a person’s mental health another day, it’s important to remember that for some users, filters promote poor mental health and that can lead to body dysmorphia, eating disorders, and more.

Now, a report from Technology Review highlights a test TikTok was apparently running that automatically tweaked some users’ faces without consent. This was first brought to light on TikTok from Tori Dawn, who noticed a filter being automatically applied to their videos.

@toridawn817

congrats tiktok I am super uncomfortable and disphoric now cuz of whatever the fuck this shit is

♬ original sound – Tori Dawn

As you can see in the video above, when Dawn puts a hand over the top portion of their face, a small change happens on their jawline, making it slimmer.

“My face is pretty androgynous and I like my jawline,” Dawn said in an interview with TR. “So when I saw that it was popping in and out, I’m like ‘Why would they do that, why?’ This is one of the only things that I like about my face. Why would you do that?”

Upon further investigation, this wasn’t a setting that could be turned on or off, this was just the app doing it on its own. In the days that followed in May, other users reported similar issues.

Abby Ohlheiser, who wrote the report for Technology Review back in June, notes that after testing it, it seemed to be an issue that was only occurring on Android phones.

Thankfully, the filter only seemed to be live for a couple of days and everything seems to be back to normal now.

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