Snapchat, and Kylie Jenner, in hot water over 'blackface' filter


Snapchat is facing criticism for introducing a Bob Marley filter to its app which pastes the late singer’s face over the user’s, adding cartoon dreadlocks and a cap.

The social media company is being accused not only of introducing the digital equivalent of blackface, but also for the timing of the filter: it appears to have been introduced to mark 20 April (or 4/20), an important day in weed culture – but nothing to do with Bob Marley himself, outside of the musician’s own involvement with marijuana.

Aaisha Dadi Patel, a writer for South Africa’s Daily Vox, said that “the filter is a form of blackface, cultural appropriation, and totally problematic… This is a caricature of a black person.

“Besides that, Snapchat is reducing the legacy of a musical great to smoking weed.”

Prominent Snapchat users have already come under fire for using the filter themselves: celebrity Kylie Jenner posted a pair of videos of herself playing around with the filter, eliciting criticism from others.

The Guardian asked Snapchat whether it considered the optics of such a filter before rolling it out, and whether the firm consulted anyone over whether or not it might be offensive or hurtful. Snapchat said:

The lens we launched today was created in partnership with the Bob Marley Estate, and gives people a new way to share their appreciation for Bob Marley and his music. Millions of Snapchatters have enjoyed Bob Marley’s music, and we respect his life and achievements.

Powered by article was written by Alex Hern, for on Wednesday 20th April 2016 14.13 Europe/London © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010