Much like they did on 4/20 with their blackface Bob Marley filter, the geniuses at LA-based Snapchat have done an about-face and removed a Japanese anime-inspired filter that was essentially yellowface, and offensive by any stretch. The filter, or lens as they call it, superimposed squinty eyes, thin upraised eyebrows, and pouty lips or buckteeth on the photo subject, and quickly drew the ire of Asian Americans on Twitter, as evidenced below.
Snapchat issued an apology saying "Lenses are meant to be playful and never to offend."
USA Today spoke to a UCLA professor who suggests that Snapchat, and other tech companies, really should "take seriously hiring people with a deep knowledge of cultural studies, ethnic studies, sociology, women studies, fields that are deeply attuned to the histories of people of color."
Via Twitter, reactions to the lens began on August 9. Snapchat has now removed the lens, as the Associated Press reports.
As Wired explains, the fact that offensive filters like this one slip through may be due to the fact that the company, for reasons of revenue and user engagement, is going hog-wild creating new filters.
For Snapchat, experimenting with filters is good for business. They prove the company’s value for advertisers as a creative way to let brands insert themselves in conversations that don’t alienate teens. The more filters people use, the more likely they’ll be to download a lens sponsored by a brand, like the Target-branded filter that’s live right now.
Right, but COME ON. There wasn't anybody on the team, even like one Asian person, who was like, "Hold up, guys. This might be seen as racist."??
Back in April, the Bob Marley filter that was launched in collaboration with the Marley estate, sparked controversy but was not removed, and rather than apologize for it Snapchat issued a weird statement saying the blackface lens "gives people a new way to share their appreciation for Bob Marley and his music. "