Three Times Snapchat Made Us Pause
In the last year, Snapchat has morphed us into slim-faced pups and glowing queens—and in doing so, has captivated our weak, narcissistic hearts. But amidst the infinitely fun filters—amidst the dog ears, flower crowns, and purple lips—Snapchat has offered the occasional filter that’s really made us pause. In the past week alone, they released a “yellowface” themed filter, as people are referring to it, that was apparently “inspired by anime,” and as you might expect, offended many.
— grace (@tequilafunrise) August 9, 2016
The app has since deleted the filter, but it’s important to note that this isn’t the first time Snapchat has sparked controversy. Here are three other unsavory Snapchat filters that made us all pause.
Say No to Whitewashing
Some of the Snapchat filters that have come under fire have been the “beautification filters,” as they’re referred to, which tend to lighten your skin in addition to making your nose appear smaller, your eyes larger, and your chin more chiseled. And, as Vrinda Jagota astutely pointed out, they all seem to favor a Eurocentric-flavored beauty. Disturbing to say the least.
Snapchat, I am very disturbed by the fact that your "beautification" filters make my skin lighter, and my nose and jaw smaller. Just saying.
— Allegra Clark (@SimplyAllegra) May 9, 2016
No to blackface too…
To celebrate 4/20 this year, Snapchat released a filter that was supposed to “give a new way to share their appreciation for Bob Marley and his music,” as the company’s spokespeople told various news outlets. The result, however, looked much more akin to digital blackface—and, as such, annoyed pretty much everyone. Everyone, that is, aside from Kylie Jenner.
Ok is anyone else seeing this Bob Marley snapchat filter? read: blackface filter? @Snapchat wtf ???
— Lauren L'Amie (@LameLAmie) April 20, 2016
Some argued that Snapchat wasn’t endorsing blackface, per se. Whatever the motive, one thing is certain: the app reduced Marley’s entire life and career to some weed and dreads graphics.
And Finally, Plagiarism
According to Bloomberg, Snapchat has around 150 millions users a day. That’s a lot of eyeballs. Did the people behind Snapchat think that they can just plagiarize hard working creatives’ work and get away with it? And the plagiarism didn’t happen just once or twice. There has been at least four publicized accounts—though, there are probably more—of these encounters. Alexander Khokhlov, Argenis Pinal, Mykie, and Lois van Baarle are all artists whose work was swiped for Snapchat’s benefit without any permission or payment. (For a company valued at around $20 billion, according to TechCrunch, that’s quite irritating.) Snapchat released a statement regarding the plagiarism: The creative process sometimes involves inspiration, but it should never result in copying. We have already implemented additional layers of review for all designs. Copying other artists isn’t something we will tolerate […] Eh, but is this enough?
What this post is for and what you should know if you care enough to read this caption: 🔹This is an update to a post from April. I wasn't sure how I felt about a new Snapchat filter, as the details of the filter matched specific details to an old makeup look I did (inner corner of eyes, 3 lines for lower lip, brow hairs in front & open in front half). 🔹This became a problem for 3 other artists (@argenapeede, Lois Van Baarle and Alexander Khokhlov) where snapchat made filters or stickers that had minor changes but matched exactly in very specific details, placement, shape AND overall concept. 🔸TAKE AWAY: Snapchat has since admitted this is an issue, and that copying will not be tolerated. Thats what this Teen Vogue article is about. That's a good thing and that's why I'm posting. The support of people who are artists or know even a TINY amount about intellectual property and copyright laws are why that happened. I'm not asking for arguments on whether or not this is copied since snapchat has acknowledged it. Hard to call it just "coincidence" on 4 different works from 4 different artists in a 3 month timespan- this is not about just one filter. 🔹What else you should know: Yes, makeup CAN and has been copyrighted. Yes, my work has copyright & that's because of the SPECIFIC style & details, not the overall style of pop art or watercolor separately. Same for the other 3 cases. Yes, there are bigger problems in the world. But yes, it is still an issue, and someone should not be paid by a massive company to take the work of someone else who gets no credit or compensation. Art needs to be changed enough to count as a new work. That's copyright law, not my opinion. If you don't care about this that's fine, but don't complain in the comments like I forced you to look at this. ⚠️Again, snapchat has ADMITTED theres an issue with copying they're looking into. If your comment disregards that, or the info in here, don't bother commenting or you will be (laughed at and) blocked.
Snapchat has definitely changed the landscape of the digital age. It’s an app that merges instant gratification with narcissism and has truly revolutionized the way companies brand and market their items, as well as how we socialize and interact with one another. But with these controversies still in our minds, it’s hard to enjoy Snapchat as a quirky, fun app…as much as we want to.
Image via Engadget.
Stay tuned to Milk for more questionable filters.