After ‘yellowface’ backlash, Snapchat takes down controversial lens

11 Aug 2016

Snapchat had to remove one of its latest lenses after a number of users took to social media to complain that it was racist, with many dubbing it the ‘yellowface’ lens.

Despite the immense popularity of Snapchat and its regular release of often humorous lenses that change a person’s face to the point of being unrecognisable, it appears its latest face-altering lens has overstepped a mark for many of its users.

Lenses allow users to change their face in appearance, for example, by adding dog ears or making them look like a bee.

Future Human

According to The Verge, however, one of its latest lenses has been compared to many of the racist Asian caricatures portrayed in times gone by.

One of the first complaints that appeared online originated from Twitter user @tequilafunrise, who posted a tweet with her face altered by this new lens alongside a racist portrayal of an Asian soldier.

Having seen the reaction the lens was generating online, Snapchat was quick to react to its users’ opinions and removed the lens from its app completely.

In response to The Verge, Snapchat sad that the lens was originally posted as a homage to the Japanese anime culture and “was meant to be playful”.

This wouldn’t be the first time that users have felt Snapchat overstepped the mark into the realm of racial insensitivity, with its Bob Marley lens released on 20 April this year also being criticised.

Released as a reference to 420 – a slang term used to refer to smoking weed – the lens’ use of dreadlocks and an attempt to recreate the famous singer’s face led to claims that it was allowing users to go ‘blackface’.

Snapchat lenses image via dennizn/Shutterstock

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic