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Snapchat Apologized After An Insensitive Juneteenth Filter Went Viral

Many companies and organizations celebrated Juneteenth on Friday, some for the first time as corporate America and the nation as a whole reexamines its relationship with racism. The holiday and its importance has become a hot topic amid mass protests against racial injustice and police brutality against Black people in recent weeks, but one company seems to have gone too far and had to apologize on social media.

Messaging company Snapchat issued an apology on Friday after a filter meant to celebrate Juneteenth went viral for its apparent insensitivity about the meaning of Juneteenth to the Black community. The “lens” was a camera function that put the words “Juneteenth Freedom Day” on screens and asked users to “smile.” When they did, metal chains appearing in the background of the image would be broken.

Juneteenth is a celebration of the day slaves in Texas finally learned they were granted their freedom a full two years after the Emancipation Proclamation and after the conclusion of the Civil War. The allusion to slavery, and its apparent ending as the result of a smile, was enough to draw outrage on other social media platforms.

Snapchat quickly removed the lens and issued an apology on Twitter, saying the filter was added without proper review.

“The Lens that went live hadn’t been approved through our review process,” the message said. “We are investigating so this doesn’t happen again.”