Currently, Snapchat’s 3D Cartoon lens has been all the thrill, making all of our buddies appear like Pixar characters. However since 2013, a staple filter on the ephemeral photo-sharing app has been the velocity filter, which reveals how briskly a cellphone is shifting when it takes a photograph or video. Right this moment, Snapchat confirmed that it’s going to pull the filter from the app.
NPR first reported this right now, calling it a “dramatic reversal” of Snap’s earlier protection of the function. Over time, there have been a number of automobile accidents, accidents and deaths that had been associated to the usage of the filter. In 2016, for example, an 18-year-old took a Snapchat selfie whereas driving, then struck one other driver’s automobile at 107 miles per hour. The opposite driver, Maynard Wentworth, suffered traumatic mind accidents and sued Snap. His lawyer mentioned that the 18-year-old “was simply attempting to get the automobile to 100 miles per hour to publish it on Snapchat.”
Snapchat’s filter-related offenses don’t start and finish right here. Final yr on Juneteenth, a day that commemorates the top of slavery, Snapchat launched a filter that prompted customers to “smile to interrupt the chains.” On 4/20 in 2016, Snapchat partnered with Bob Marley’s property to launch a function that gave customers dreadlocks and darker pores and skin, committing blackface. And even after Snapchat’s velocity filter was linked to deadly automobile accidents, it remained obtainable within the app with a easy “don’t snap and drive” warning.
“Right this moment the sticker is barely utilized by Snapchatters, and in mild of that, we’re eradicating it altogether,” a spokesperson from Snap mentioned, including that the function had beforehand been disabled at driving speeds. The corporate has begun eradicating the filter, but it surely would possibly take a number of weeks to take full impact.
This new stance from Snap comes after the Ninth Circuit Appeals Courtroom present in Might that the corporate could be sued for its function in a deadly automobile accident.
Typically, Part 230 of the Communications Decency Act protects web sites, or “interactive pc providers,” from lawsuits like this, offering immunity for these platforms from third-party content material posted on them. However in 2019, the mother and father of two youngsters killed in crashes — Landen Brown and Hunter Morby — filed one other lawsuit. They argued that the app’s “negligent design” (together with a velocity filter to start with) contributed to the crash. A California decide dismissed the case, citing Part 230, however in Might of this yr, three judges on the federal Ninth Circuit Appeals Courtroom dominated that Part 230 really doesn’t apply right here. The battle isn’t with Snapchat’s function as a social media platform, however moderately, the app’s design, which features a demonstrably harmful velocity filter.
So, the sudden removing of the velocity filter isn’t as random as it might appear. Now that their Part 230 protection is not, it is sensible that holding the filter isn’t definitely worth the authorized threat. You’d assume that the filter-related accidents would have been sufficient for Snapchat to take down the filter years in the past, however higher late than by no means.