Snapchat has come under fire for a new filter that lets users transform themselves into Bob Marley, black skin color included. The Venice, California-based startup launched the filter on Wednesday, timed for 4/20, which is being celebrated as an unofficial holiday for cannabis users around the world.
Some Snapchat and Twitter users took offense with the fact that the company reduced Bob Marley to a mascot for cannabis consumption. Many more questioned the idea of a filter that would change people’s skin color to being black, with some calling it “digital blackface,” and others wondering how the company could have possibly approved this.
Snapchat however didn’t seem willing to backpedal, telling reporters that the filter was created in partnership with the Bob Marley Estate. “Millions of Snapchatters have enjoyed Bob Marley’s music, and we respect his life and achievements,” the company added.
The controversy comes at a time of increased scrutiny over diversity in the tech industry. Many tech companies have come under fire for a lack of diversity within their workforce, and some have begun to actively reach out to minority communities for recruitment. Companies like Google, Facebook and Twitter have all released reports on the racial and gender make-up of their workforce, but Snapchat has yet to publish its own diversity report.