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Snapchat Decided To Make A Filter For Juneteenth That Asked People To "Smile" To Break Chains

"We are investigating why this mistake occurred so that we can avoid it in the future."

Posted on June 19, 2020, at 2:30 p.m. ET

Snapchat apologized for posting a filter for Juneteenth that required users to "smile" to break chains that appeared on the screen.

The filter went viral on Twitter after digital strategist and journalist Mark S. Luckie posted a video of himself using the filter, calling it "um...interesting."

Juneteenth, celebrated on June 19, commemorates the ending of slavery in the US.

The filter featured text that read "Juneteenth Freedom Day." It prompted users to "smile," and when they did, chains in the background broke apart. Luckie filmed his own reaction to doing the filter.

"Smile to break the chains? Okay then," he wrote.

This SnapChat #Juneteenth filter is...um...interesting. Smile to break the chains? Okay then.

He followed up his tweet with a meme of Will Smith saying "Where are the black people?!"

Other people who saw his tweet decided to go check out the filter for themselves and share the results.

@marksluckie yoooooo, I barely get on Snapchat but I had to see what the tea was... yalll .. wtf 🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣 smile you break the chains ???? Deadass ? 🤣

@marksluckie guess they thought this was gonna be our reaction

"Come on!" said one person who rolled her eyes at the filter when she tried it.

@marksluckie It’s time to sue @Snapchat

As the filter spread through social media, most people were speechless.

smile to break the chains... excuse me snapchat ?

Snapchat really said smile to break the chains.... chile...

Many Twitter users claimed that the existence of the filter seemed to indicate that Snapchat needed to diversify its teams to avoid mistakes like this one.

Snapchat put out a filter where you smile and fucking chains break for Juneteenth??????????? If anyone ever has questions of why diversity in executive leadership/creative matters this is a PERFECT example

They even imagined scenarios of how it got approved.

@marksluckie @ZalUIbaorimi —Chad, our entire staff at SnapChat is white. —I know, Brent. —What should we do? —Make diversity a priority in hiring? —No, even better. We make #Juneteenth filter where people can break free of chains! —I don’t see a problem. You guys? [murmurs of white people’s approval]

After the backlash, Snapchat pulled the filter. In a statement, the company said, "We deeply apologize to the members of the Snapchat community who found this Lens offensive."

In the statement, a spokesperson for Snap said "diverse" employees were "involved in developing the concept." The spokesperson said the filter going live was a mistake, as it had "not been approved through our review process."

"We are investigating why this mistake occurred so that we can avoid it in the future," the spokesperson said.

Snap CEO Evan Spiegel faced criticism last week after Business Insider reported he told staff at an all-hands meeting he believes that publicly releasing diversity numbers "only reinforces the perception that tech is not a place for underrepresented groups." Several companies across multiple industries have released diversity reports in recent weeks in response to the protests over the police killing of George Floyd and systemic racism.

When asked by BuzzFeed News if the company had any diversity reports on its staff to share, the spokesperson said Snapchat does plan to release them.

"We’re fully committed to publicly releasing our diversity numbers, along with context and meaningful plans for change," they said.

After Snapchat pulled the filter, many people credited Luckie for calling the company out.

Well many thanks to you @Snapchat. Now hire more black people. https://t.co/ckdfbW2h4e

"Well many thanks to you @Snapchat," he tweeted. "Now hire more black people."


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