Social media platform Snapchat is popular for many things – it’s vanishing pictures and videos that disappear after certain time, it’s wide variety of adorable stickers, customised location stamps, and funky photos lens/filters.
Yesterday, Snapchat released a controversial filter which overlaid faces with slanted eyes and wide cheeks. Users quickly slammed the platform for the filter, calling it offensive as it stereotyped Asians.
— tiny tim (@limb_light) August 9, 2016
Scores of users and netizens took to Twitter to call out Snapchat for allowing the filter, dubbed “Yellowface”, to be released. “Can Snapchat hire someone to stop them from releasing racist filters because it shouldn’t be that hard to tell if a product is harmful or not. Or to be honest, just send the whole company to a cultural sensitivity workshop,” Twitter user @brtnyle said.
“Snapchat, pay me two million dollars a year and i can tell you if a new filter is racist or not before you release it,” @knguyen tweeted while @DavidUzumeri said, “Hi Snapchat if you want to hire me and pay me silicon valley money to tell you if filters are racist or not i can totally do that job.”
This is not the first time that Snapchat has come under fire for releasing a racially insensitive filter. A few months ago, the platform ignited concerns when it released a Bob Marley filter it said was designed in the spirit of the late reggae star. The filter had modified facial features and a darkened skin tone (read: digital blackface).
Snapchat has since released a statement to explain that the “Yellowface” filter was not meant to be offensive as it was “anime-inspired”. “Lenses are meant to be playful and never to offend,” Snapchat said, adding that they have pulled the filter and that it would not be used again.
Currently, Snapchat has more than 100 million users globally, with more than 10 billion video views being generated per day.