Snapchat is apologizing for a controversial Juneteenth filter that allowed users to “smile and break the chains,” saying the filter had not gone through its usual review protocols. The filter was panned by critics on Friday morning shortly after its release for its tone deafness, and was disabled by about 11AM ET.
“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.”
It isn’t the first time a Snapchat filter has gone badly awry. In 2017, it honored International Women’s Day by offering filters of famous women like Frida Kahlo, Rosa Parks, and Marie Curie, but added smoky eye makeup and a face “thinning” effect to the Curie filter. It had two misfires with filters in 2016: it released a Bob Marley filter in honor of 4/20 that put users’ selfies in what many users felt amounted to digital blackface, and later that year made an anime-inspired filter that created “yellowface” caricatures of Asians.