Snapchat has apologized for rolling out a special Juneteenth filter that asked users to smile for the camera, and when they did, would prompt a pair of chains to break in the background.
“We deeply apologize for the offensive Juneteenth Lens. The Lens that went live hadn’t been approved through our review process. We are investigating so this doesn’t happen again,” said Snapchat on Twitter.
We deeply apologize for the offensive Juneteenth Lens. The Lens that went live hadn’t been approved through our review process. We are investigating so this doesn’t happen again.
— Snapchat (@Snapchat) June 19, 2020
Juneteenth, which is a holiday in all but four states, commemorates the abolition of slavery in Texas, over two years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the emancipation proclamation freeing slaves in rebel states.
Mark Luckie, a digital strategist who called attention to the filter early Friday morning, tweeted an example of the filter, which shows chains breaking after he smiles for the camera: “This SnapChat #Juneteenth filter is um…interesting…Smile to break the chains? Okay then.”
This SnapChat #Juneteenth filter is…um…interesting.
Smile to break the chains? Okay then. pic.twitter.com/Wyob3kT3ew
— Mark S. Luckie (@marksluckie) June 19, 2020
Snapchat told The Verge in a statement that the concept for the commemorative filter was “developed by a diverse group of Snap team members.” The social media company, however, maintained the version that was released early on Friday didn’t follow the proper approval process.
In a speech on the Senate floor on Thursday, Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) revealed that he planned to introduce legislation to make Juneteenth a federal holiday, several days after the senate passed his resolution honoring the date. Cornyn observed that the commemoration would be “an opportunity to reflect on our history, the mistakes we have made, but yet how far we’ve come in the fight for equality, and a reminder of just how far we still have to go,” reported The Hill.
On Friday, four Senators, including Cory Booker (D-NJ), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Ed Markey (D-MA), and Tina Smith (D-MN), also said they planned to propose legislation.
“Juneteenth is about reclaiming our history, rejoicing in the progress we’ve made, and recommitting to the work yet undone,” said Booker. “Our nation still has a long way to go to reckon with and overcome the dark legacy of slavery and the violence and injustice that has persisted after its end. Making Juneteenth a federal holiday represents a step forward in the journey of healing America is still taking.”
Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) proposed a similar resolution in the House of Representatives, reported KHOU-11.
“Juneteenth celebrates African American freedom while encouraging self-development and respect for all cultures,” sad Lee. “But it must always serve as a reminder to all that liberty and freedom are the precious birthright of all Americans which must be jealously guarded and preserved for future generations.”
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