Snapchat has decided to ditch the controversial feature, ‘speed filter’ as early as this week. This feature uses GPS technology and tracks the speed of the user which they can share with their friends. Advocates have argued over the years that the filter promotes road rage and reckless driving. The founder company, Snap Inc, has faced many lawsuits regarding the same.
Speed filter linked to car crashes
Snapchat has not clearly outlined the reasons behind removing the speed filter. However, the connections of the speed filter with numerous life-threatening crashes and even deaths in some cases might have ignited the issue. Mainly the victims are teenagers who were using the feature while driving and caught in accidents.
In 2015, a girl named Christal McGee slammed into another car while playing with the speed filter. The girl was lucky to be alive, but the passenger in the other car suffered permanent brain damage.
Later in 2017, three men died after crashing into a tree at a speed of 123 miles per hour. The victims snapped the speed in the app before crashing.
Snap modifies speed filter
Many more incidents took place in between these two events where people lost lives. And Snap was accused of introducing such a fatal feature in their app. Consequently, the company brought some changes in the feature. This included a transformation of the speed filter to a sticker combined with a warning text” DON’T SNAP AND DRIVE” in Snapchat. The sticker was buried inside a menu which was a bit challenging to access, unlike the previous filter. Moreover, the speed limit was capped at 35 mph to be eligible to snap.
Last month, a federal appeals court ruled that the parents of the young men involved in the Wisconsin car crash can sue Snap Inc. The case can be filed based on the negligence of the company in designing the product that could potentially risk lives. Although, the tech giant has filed to counter the lawsuit denying any involvement of the feature in the collision.
Joel from End Distracted Driving appreciated the removal of the feature but also questioned its delay. End Distracted Driving is one of many groups that put efforts to remove the speed filter of Snapchat.
While lawyer Neff who is looking after the crash cases associated with the filter, explicitly criticized Snapchat’s decision to include the feature in the first place.
The spokeswoman for Snap Inc. said to NPR “Nothing is more important than the safety of the Snapchat community.” She further added the users barely use the speed filter. And due to the insignificant use ratio, the feature will be gone soon enough. As a matter of fact, out of the 5 billion snaps taken by users every day, the speed sticker is not so popular.
Despite the removal decision by the company, it will take some time before it completely vanishes from users all around the world. May it be the lawsuits or rare usage of the filter, it will be gone for good. The media platforms need to be responsible enough to analyze such risks even before making it into the market.