Snapchat Apologizes and Removes Juneteenth “Smile” to Break Chains Filter
- Snapchat has removed a Juneteenth filter that placed people in front of the Pan-African flag and asked users to “smile” to break the chains that floated up in the background.
- Before the filter was taken down, many people called it an insensitive way to honor Juneteenth, a holiday that celebrates the end of slavery in America.
- Snapchat released a statement claiming that this filter was not reviewed before it was posted and went live on the app in error.
- The company apologized and said it is investigating how the mistake was made.
Filter Leads to Outrage
Snapchat has removed its Juneteenth filter that asked users to “smile” to break chains after it drew criticism online from those who called it tone-deaf and offensive.
The filter placed Snapchat users in front of the Pan-African flag, alongside a logo that says “Juneteenth Freedom Day.” When a user smiled, a common request for filters on the app, chains would float up in the background, break, then disappear. The filter generated attention when journalist and digital strategist Mark S. Luckie posted a video of him using it.
Many shared Luckie’s video and condemned Snapchat for releasing the filter. Among other critiques, users called it an insensitive way to honor Juneteenth, a holiday that celebrates the end of slavery in the United States.
“This is what happens when you don’t have any black people on the product design team,” wrote Ashten Winger, a multimedia designer who used to work for the social media company. “As a Snap alumni, this is extremely embarrassing.”
“Do we need to get into this or do you think snapchat knows why this is fucked up?” one Twitter user asked.
“I rather Juneteenth go back to being an obscure holiday if this is what is going to happen. This is ridiculous,” another person said.
Snapchat Removes Filter and Apologizes
As criticism began to pour in, Snapchat removed the filter and issued an apology for ever posting it. The company claimed it went on the app in error.
“We deeply apologize to the members of the Snapchat community who found this Lens offensive,” a Snapchat spokesperson told CNBC. “A diverse group of Snap team members were involved in developing the concept, but a version of the Lens that went live for Snapchatters this morning had not been approved through our review process.”
“We are investigating why this mistake occurred so that we can avoid it in the future,” it added.
This comes just a week after Business Insider reported that Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel was withholding the company’s diversity reports and statistics from the public because that data “only reinforces the perception that tech is not a place for underrepresented groups.
According to a transcript from an all-hands meeting at Snapchat obtained by Business Insider, Spiegel is trying to come up with a “new version of a diversity report.” This version would focus more on giving context and “helping people understand our strategy and approach for driving change, and holding ourselves accountable to that. “
Releasing statistics and data on diversity within tech companies is a common practice. Despite Snapchat’s decision to not do this, the company has pledged its support to fight against racial injustice and inequality in the country. In a tweet on June 1, Snapchat wrote: “We condemn racism. We must embrace profound change. It starts with advocating for creating more opportunity, and for living the American values of freedom, equality and justice for all.”
See what others are saying: (CNBC) (Business Insider) (The Verge)
TikTok to Require Labels on Manipulated Media, Ban Deepfakes of Children
The social media platform says it wants to embrace the creativity AI can offer while being cautious of the “societal and individual risks” that come with it.
TikTok is rolling out a slew of limitations regarding synthetic deepfake videos, including a ban on deepfake content of children.
In an update on Tuesday, the social media platform said it wants welcome “the creativity that new artificial intelligence and other digital technologies may unlock” while also being careful of the “societal and individual risks” that come with it. To mitigate those risks, TikTok will require users to label manipulated media depicting “realistic scenes.” Users can do so in stickers, captions, or other means that make it clear the video is “synthetic,” “fake,” “not real,” or “altered.”
On top of that, there are new restrictions about who can be the subject of these manipulated videos. TikTok will not allow deepfake media that shows the likeness of a “young person” or any private person, including adults. It is also barring deepfakes that depict adult public figures giving political or commercial endorsements, as well as deepfakes that violate one of the platform’s other rules.
“While we provide more latitude for public figures, we do not want them to be the subject of abuse, or for people to be misled about political or financial issues,” the company’s updated guidelines say.
As TikTok’s policies previously stated, synthetic media that has been edited to mislead audiences about real-world events is also not allowed on the platform.
As far as what kind of deepfake media is allowed on TikTok, the company said videos showing adult public figures in “certain contexts, including artistic and educational content,” get the green light. This can include a video of a celebrity doing a TikTok dance, or a historical figure being depicted in a history lesson.
The rules will be enforced starting April 21. Between now and then, TikTok says it will be training its moderators to better implement the guidelines.
See what others are saying: (The Verge) (The Associated Press) (TechCrunch)
Adidas Financial Woes Continue, Company on Track for First Annual Loss in Decades
Adidas has labeled 2023 a “transition year” for the company.
Adidas’ split with musician Kanye West has left the company with financial problems due to surplus Yeezy products, putting the sportswear giant in the position to potentially suffer its first annual loss in over 30 years.
Adidas dropped West last year after he made a series of antisemitic remarks on social media and other broadcasts. His Yeezy line was a staple for Adidas, and the surplus product is due, in part, to the brand’s own decision to continue production during the split.
According to CEO Bjorn Gulden, Adidas continued production of only the items already in the pipeline to prevent thousands of people from losing their jobs. However, that has led to the unfortunate overabundance of Yeezy sneakers and clothes.
On Wednesday, Gulden said that selling the shoes and donating the proceeds makes more sense than giving them away due to the Yeezy resale market — which has reportedly shot up 30% since October.
“If we sell it, I promise that the people who have been hurt by this will also get something good out of this,” Gulden said in a statement to the press.
However, Gulden also said that West is entitled to a portion of the proceeds of the sale of Yeezys per his royalty agreement.
Adidas announced in February that, following its divergence from West, it is facing potential sales losses totaling around $1.2 billion and profit losses of around $500 million.
If it decides to not sell any more Yeezy products, Adidas is facing a projected annual loss of over $700 million.
Outside of West, Adidas has taken several heavy profit blows recently. Its operating profit reportedly fell by 66% last year, a total of more than $700 million. It also pulled out of Russia after the country’s invasion of Ukraine last year, which cost Adidas nearly $60 million dollars. Additionally, China’s “Zero Covid” lockdowns last year caused in part a 36% drop in revenue for Adidas compared to years prior.
As a step towards a solution, Gulden announced that the company is slashing its dividends from 3.30 euros to 0.70 euro cents per share pending shareholder approval.
Adidas has labeled 2023 a “transition year” for the company.
“Adidas has all the ingredients to be successful. But we need to put our focus back on our core: product, consumers, retail partners, and athletes,” Gulden said. “I am convinced that over time we will make Adidas shine again. But we need some time.”
See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (The New York Times) (CNN)
Elon Musk Bashes Disabled Ex-Twitter Employee, Gets Blowback
After Musk claimed the former employee “did no actual work,” the staffer calmly directed passive-aggressive insults right back at the billionaire.
Excuse Me, Do I Still Work Here?
Elon Musk brawled online with a former Twitter employee who didn’t know whether he was fired Tuesday, accusing the staffer of exploiting his disability.
Haraldur “Halli” Thorleifsson, who has muscular dystrophy, joined Twitter in 2021 after it acquired the creative agency he founded: Ueno.
He said on Twitter that he was unable to confirm whether he was still a Twitter employee nine days after being locked out of his work computer, despite reaching out to the head of HR and Musk himself through email.
At the time, Twitter had laid off at least 200 workers, or some 10% of its remaining workforce.
In search of an answer, Thorleifsson tweeted at Musk, who responded with the question: “What work have you been doing?”
After being given permission by Musk to break confidentiality, Thorleifsson listed several of his accomplishments, including leading “design crits to help level up design across the company.”
“Level up from what design to what? Pics or it didn’t happen,” Musk replied.
“We haven’t hired design roles in 4 months. What changes did you make to help with the youths?”
Thorleifsson reminded Musk that he couldn’t access any pictures because he was locked out of his work computer.
Musk stopped replying to the tweets, but hours later he returned to the platform to lob invective at his former employee.
Musk Vs. Halli
“The reality is that this guy (who is independently wealthy) did no actual work, claimed as his excuse that he had a disability that prevented him from typing, yet was simultaneously tweeting up a storm,” Musk tweeted, apparently referring to Thorleifsson. “Can’t say I have a lot of respect for that.”
“But was he fired? No, you can’t be fired if you weren’t working in the first place,” he added.
In a later Twitter thread, Thorleifsson said he could type for one or two hours at a time before his hands cramped, but that in pre-Musk Twitter, that wasn’t a problem because he was a senior director.
He added that despite his crippling disability, he worked hard for years to build Ueno.
“We grew fast and made money,” he said. “I think that’s what you are referring to when you say independently wealthy? That I independently made my money, as opposed to say, inherited an emerald mine.”
Thorleifsson made several more passive-aggressive jabs at Musk.
“I joined at a time when the company was growing fast,” he wrote. “You kind of did the opposite. The company had a fair amount of issues, but then again, most bigger companies do. Or even small companies, like Twitter today.”
Thorleifsson said that immediately following his back-and-forth with Musk, Twitter’s head of HR confirmed that he had indeed been fired from the company.