Fatal Crashes and Lawsuit prompt Snapchat to drop controversial speed filter


Snapchat, whose messages, image and short video clip app stay only for a short time, before becoming inaccessible as they disappear, has dropped a controversial filter called the speed filter. It was the first multimedia app that allowed users to put stickers and other data on the images or videos that they created. The erstwhile filter speed filter allowed a user’s speed as determined by GPS to be added to videos and this led to fatal crashes.


On Thursday, June 17 NPR was the first to report that Snapchat had removed the feature called “speed filter.” Critics had panned the feature as it encouraged some people to drive recklessly and brag about their high speeds on the app.


The speed filter feature was introduced in 2013. Despite criticism Snapchat Inc. continued with the feature despite facing lawsuits from families who lost their members who drove their vehicles in high speed as they wanted to post such videos on the app. The feature would later display readings up to 35 miles an hour. It would also display “Don’t Snap and Drive” warning along with the speed.


When asked why the company took so long to remove the feature one spokeswoman told NPR that nothing was more important that the community’s safety. On Thursday, about four weeks later, she confirmed that the feature would no longer appear on the app.


She said that the feature was barely used by Snap chatters. So, the company was “removing it altogether.” She said that the process of removing it began this week and it may take about fourteen days for it to completely disappear from the app of its over 500 million monthly users.


Three incidents covered by The Washington Post, The Drive and NPR which led to fatalities directly connected to Snap were


  1. In 2017, 17-year-old Jason Davis raced through local streets in Wisconsin while passengers took snaps at speeds that reached 123 mph. The vehicle crashed into a tree and Jason Davis, Landen Brown and Hunter Morby lost their lives.
  2. In 2017, a Dodge driver was pulled over by the police. He said that he was traveling at a speed of 112 mph “for Snapchat.”
  3. In 2016, a woman driving a Mercedes in Georgia while using Snapchat at a speed of over 100 mph hit a man’s car and left him brain damaged.


Snapchat has faced lawsuits from the families of those who lost their lives. Lawyers say they welcome the decision to drop the feature. They also say that they will continue to pursue justice and the suit will continue against the company. It will come up for hearing once again on August 2, at the US District Court in California.


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