Jun 19, 2020 - Technology

Snap withdraws controversial Juneteenth "break the chains" filter

After wide criticism, Snapchat apologized and withdrew a filter it offered users to commemorate Juneteenth by inviting users to "smile and break the chains."

The big picture: Users' complaints that they found Snap's feature offensive landed at a moment when the U.S. is reexamining racism in every corner of society, after the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police sparked nationwide protest.

Context: The Juneteenth holiday on June 19 commemorates the end of slavery in the U.S.

  • This year it has been in the spotlight after President Trump scheduled a big rally that day, only to reschedule for June 20 in response to protests.

What they're saying: "We deeply apologize to the members of the Snapchat community who found this Lens offensive," a Snap spokesperson said in a statement. "A diverse group of Snap team members were involved in developing the concept, but a version of the Lens that went live for Snapchatters this morning had not been approved through our review process. We are investigating why this mistake occurred so that we can avoid it in the future."

Flashback: It's not the first time Snapchat has released racially insensitive filters. The company was widely criticized for a Bob Marley filter released on "4/20" that many said amounted to digital blackface.

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