Snap Inc.’s (NYSE:SNAP) has apologized for the controversial Juneteenth filter that went live on the Snapchat app before approval through the review process. The filter that used a Pan-African flag as its backdrop prompted users to smile, causing chains appearing behind them to break.
Snap released Juneteenth filter without review
Several critics panned the filter on Friday Morning hours after its release for the tone-deafness, and the company later disabled the filter. A statement from the company spokesperson indicated that they were apologizing to users for the offensive Lens. The spokesperson added that the team of developers developing the Lens went live for users before approval through the review process. The statement further indicated that the company was probing the issue to avoid it occurring in the future.
A team from Looksery, which the company acquired for $150 million in 2015, leads Lens development. According to a source familiar with the issue, most of the development team is Ukraine-based and might not be conversant with cultural attitudes in the US. The source indicated that although the company’s black employees were part of the creative team for the filter, they failed to realize that the final version had an action that broke chains after smiling.
Filter features Pan-African flag
Former journalists and digital strategist Mark Luckie showed the filter on Twitter, indicating that it was interesting. Following Luckies demonstration, criticism quickly spread as the filter showed what seemed like a Pan African flag, and once the users smiled, chains will appear and break behind the Snapchatter.
Juneteenth is an anniversary to commemorate the end of slavery in the US. It is when slaves in Texas learned that slavery had ended in the US two years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation by Abraham Lincoln. The filter comes days after reports that the company’s CEO Evan Spiegel was delaying the company’s diversity stats because of concerns that such disclosures have normalized composition if the current tech workforce.