Popular photo and video-messaging app Snapchat scrambled to defend its actions Wednesday after a filter designed to honor legendary reggae icon Bob Marley backfired -- prompting accusations that it was racist and an example of "blackface." Through the filter, Marley's face is superimposed over the user's selfie, complete with the musician's dreadlocks, hat, and dark skin tone.
The backlash was almost immediate, with users taking to social media to express outrage.
So... there's a Bob Marley @Snapchat filter. Blackface is now OK, apparently?— Brenda Wong (@brendaisarebel) April 20, 2016
The filter's debut coincided with "4/20," the day that celebrates all things marijuana. After the outcry against the filter, Snapchat released a public statement insisting it was done as a tribute to Marley:
"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," Snapchat stated. "Millions of Snapchatters have enjoyed Bob Marley's music, and we respect his life and achievements."