Multimedia messaging app Snapchat has apologized for a controversial Juneteenth themed filter that allowed users to “smile and break the chains.” Snapchat said the lens that went live had not gone through its usual review protocols.
The filter used the Pan-African flag as a backdrop and prompted users to smile, which caused chains to appear behind them and then break.
Snap Inc. sought to show Black users it cared about them by releasing an interactive camera filter to commemorate Juneteenth. But the filter and social media outcry that followed only reminded the world of the company’s history of racist or insensitive blunders and lack of internal diversity.
“We deeply apologize for the offensive Juneteenth Lens. The Lens that went live hadn’t been approved through our review process. We are investigating so this doesn’t happen again,” the Snapchat tweeted.
The Multimedia messaging app also said that the company is investigating the ‘mistake.’
According to the Verge, Juneteenth is the anniversary of the day in 1865 when a group of enslaved people in Texas finally learned that slavery in the US had ended, more than two years after Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation.
Noting that the company has published similarly offensive filters in the past, three former employees said the tone of the Juneteenth filter illustrates a lack of effort and attention to issues of race and diversity.
Companies including Twitter and Nike have declared June 19 a paid holiday for employees or reduced operating hours to commemorate Juneteenth.