Jun 22, 2020 - Technology

Snapchat explains its Juneteenth filter misstep


Photo: Chesnot/Getty Images

Snapchat's head of diversity apologized to employees Saturday for a widely criticized Juneteenth filter that encouraged people to "smile and break the chains." However, in the same note, the executive insisted that it was white employees who raised concerns and black employees who suggested it was fine.

Between the lines: While the letter offers some clarity about the process that led to the filter's release, it's not clear that it makes the company look much better.

What they're saying: "For the record, and the avoidance of all doubt: the two Snap team members who on separate occasions specifically questioned if the 'smile' trigger was appropriate for Juneteenth were two white team members," VP of diversity and inclusion Oona King said in an email to employees seen by Axios.

  • "The Snap team members who suggested the smile trigger to begin with, and said it was acceptable to use, were black Snap team members, and/or members of my team."

Our thought bubble: Snap clearly wants the world to know that this blunder was not a matter of an all-white team stumbling into a race-politics gaffe, but rather the failure of a process that involved a racially diverse set of employees. Yet it's not the makeup of Snap's team that's at issue — it's the content the company put before the public.

  • The company faced similar backlash over a "4/20" Bob Marley filter that many perceived as akin to digital blackface.
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