With the newly widespread celebration of Juneteenth this year, we knew at least once big company would release a tone-deaf marketing scheme that would be as racist as possible. Not only that, but it would reassure its users that they lack Black people on their staff, who would have been able to fix the problem before it started. What we didn’t expect, though, is that it was going to come in the form of a filter from Snapchat.
For Juneteenth as with most filters, an action from the Snapchat user gets a reaction from the filter. But when Snapchat created one that asks their users to smile in order to break chains for Juneteenth, anyone with sense in the room would have said ‘Yeah, no”,–However, that didn’t happen. Instead, the filter was waiting for everyone when they woke up this morning and instantly the social media backlash was upon Snapchat’s head top.
According to The Verge, the filter was disabled by 11am but unfortunately for the app, the damage was already done. Snapchat released a statement about the ordeal, saying the following:
“We deeply apologize to the members of the Snapchat community who found this Lens offensive,” a Snap spokesperson said in an email to The Verge. “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.”
Snapchat insiders also tried to pass off the blame, stating that their filters are done by a company in Ukraine that may not know American cultural attitudes—whatever that means.
Lastly, they also claimed that Black Snapchat employees were involved in the filter’s creation, but didn’t see the final version that included the action for breaking chains. It sounds like a big YIKES all around.