Even the most woke of companies can’t seem to win when it comes to political pandering. Snapchat, one of the more progressive social media platforms, pushed a cringe-inducing filter to celebrate “Juneteenth,” and was bullied to publicly apologize.
“Racial violence and injustice have no place in our society and we stand together with all who seek peace, love, equality, and justice in America,” said Snapchat when it decided to remove President Donald Trump from its “Discover” platform. For “Juneteenth,” the company installed a seasonal filter that showed chains being wrapped around the user’s neck. Users were told to “smile” to break the chains.
Users on Twitter posted videos of themselves using the filter. One user stated, “Someone at Snapchat actually looked at #Juneteenth, commemorating the end of slavery in the US, and thought it was a good idea to have people ‘break’ virtual chains as a nod to slavery. I mean, wow.”
A letter from Snap’s vice president of diversity and inclusion Oona King stated, “Speaking on behalf of my team, clearly we failed to recognize the gravity of the ‘smile’ trigger,” reported The Verge. But the company seemed confused about why the filter would be considered offensive. The letter continued: “We reviewed the Lens from the standpoint of Black creative content, made by and for Black people, so did not adequately consider how it would look when used by non-Black members of our community.”
The company refused to admit any wrongdoing in the letter, saying, “All of these accusations are particularly painful, first because we care so deeply about racial justice, and second because the accusations are completely untrue.” King stated, “We feel it is perfectly acceptable as Black people to celebrate the end of slavery ... and say ‘Smile! Happy Juneteenth; we’re no longer enslaved! But we’re not yet really free either!’ However for a White person to tell a Black person: ‘Smile! You’re no longer slaves’ is offensive in the extreme.”
Meanwhile, the company made the decision that “We are not currently promoting the president’s content on Snapchat’s Discover platform,” according to a public statement from Snapchat. “We will not amplify voices who incite racial violence and injustice by giving them free promotion on Discover.”
Instead, feel free to view an image of yourself in chains in order to celebrate the end of slavery.