Snapchat pulls Juneteenth filter that asked users to ‘smile’ to break chains of oppression

The tech company apologizes after a filter to commemorate the holiday generates criticism

Photos: via Mark S. Luckie/Twitter, Snapchat logo

While companies all over the country scramble to finally acknowledge Juneteenth in the wake of Black Lives Matter protests, it looks like someone at Snapchat may have taken things too far.

READ MORE: Morehouse grads create PSA calling for Juneteenth to be a national holiday

This week, the social media app issued an apology after several people objected to its Juneteenth themed filter that prompted users to ‘smile’ to break chains, a tone-deaf allusion to the chains of oppression.

“We deeply apologize to the members of the Snapchat community who found this Lens offensive,” a Snap spokesperson said in an email to theGrio. “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.”

In the wee hours of Friday morning, Atlanta-based digital strategist Mark S. Luckie took to  Twitter to demonstrate the new filter, calling it “interesting.”


In his clip, the filter showed a rendering of the Pan-African flag waving in the background and then prompted him to smile. Once Luckie did so, chains appeared behind him and then broke as a result of him following the directive.


This misstep comes just a week after it was reported that Snap CEO Evan Spiegel was delaying the public release of the company’s diversity stats due to concern that “all these disclosures have actually normalized the current composition of the tech workforce.”

READ MORE: Dr. Angela Davis, Tamika Mallory appear on special Juneteenth episode of ‘Red Table Talk’

He later explained to CNBC that the company was “actually inventing a new way right now to release that information and also make it clear about the plans we have to include representation at Snap and more broadly, in the industry.”

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