Snapchat removes ‘speed filter’ amid safety concerns over reckless driving

A controversial filter on Snapchat has been removed amid allegations it contributed to deadly car crashes.

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Snap said it’s removing the controversial “speed filter” from its popular social media app Snapchat, according to a report on Thursday from NPR. The in-app effect lets users capture how fast they’re moving, and it shares that speed with friends through the app. 

The app was first introduced in 2013 and has been linked to several deadly or near-fatal car accidents, many of which involved teens. The company has faced lawsuits from families of people who have been injured or killed in car accidents in which drivers were allegedly using the app and driving too fast to brag to friends. 

In May, the Ninth Circuit Appeals Court ruled that the parents of three young men who died in a car crash in Wisconsin would be able to sue Snap for negligent design of its product that led to foreseeable harm. Snap has filed a motion with the court to dismiss the lawsuit, arguing that the speed filter didn’t cause the crash. 

Safety advocates have argued that the app encourages reckless driving. Snap has defended the feature, but after the lawsuits were filed it demoted the filter to a sticker. The company also made it harder to find the sticker, burying it in a separate menu. NPR’s report states that “of the some 5 billion ‘snaps’ users make every day, the speed feature barely registers in terms of popularity.” This is why Snap officials say they’re dropping the feature, NPR said. 

Snap has not responded to CNET’s request for comment. But the company seemed to deny that the safety concerns were the reason for its removal. A company spokesperson told NPR on Thursday that the feature “is barely used by Snapchatters.” She added, “And in light of that, we are removing it altogether.”

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