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ICYMI: Snapchat and Instagram Disable Feature Due to Racist Giphy

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Snapchat and Instagram are two separate companies, and yet, they seem to do a lot of things “together”.  Or at least at the same time. Usually, when Snapchat releases a new feature, Instagram is not far behind with the same feature.  While I rag on Instagram for doing this, it’s kind of a decent strategy.  It keeps the platform fresh and means that the folks at Instagram don’t have to get creative.  Now the two companies are doing something together again.  But this time, it’s not so great.  They are disabling the Giphy stickers feature.  Why?  Well, some jerk decided it would be a good idea to create a racist Giphy.  The sticker was first discovered on Snapchat, so they pulled it and disabled the feature while their staff look into it.

Shortly after, people found the same sticker on Instagram and they decided to follow suit.  Snapchat has had a poor track record when it comes to racial sensitivity.  They previously released racist image filters on more than one occasion.  But the fact that the sticker is also available on Instagram makes this a Giphy issue.  Giphy’s community guidelines say that they don’t allow anything that contains hate speech, but at least one made it through the filter.

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I can’t decide what makes me angrier, the fact that there are still hateful people in the world putting these messages out there, or the fact that technology still can’t filter these kinds of things?  You might think that the first part of that statement should make me angrier.  And it does boil my blood, but we can’t control what other people think or want to say.  We do have control over technology for the most part. I mean, at least in terms of being able to apply these filters.  Or we should.  When I say “we”, clearly, I’m talking about Snapchat, Instagram, and Giphy.  And one could argue other companies that have had these issues.  But I think you can understand where I’m going with this one.

Snapchat, Instagram, and Giphy all have the ability to apply certain filters – don’t they?  Or am I oversimplifying this?  I would think that you could put some words into said filter, and then make sure that those words aren’t used on the platform.  Especially, from content that is generated internally through this kind of feature.  This does make me more concerned than with hate speech itself.  I think that, no matter what we do, there are always going to be people with hate in their heart.  There are always going to be people who feel superior in some way to another race, or gender.  I will continue using whatever influence I have to try and change that, but I’m not confident that I can.

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Where we need to do better work is in making sure that technology doesn’t pick up on these hateful biases.  I’m not saying this is the fault of Snapchat, Instagram or even Giphy.  I think, in general, these are issues that are coming to the forefront as a result of technology.   We have seen this kind of thing with Facebook, and we continue to see it with other platforms.  Tech companies need to figure out a way to get this stuff sorted out so that a child doesn’t have to see a racist remark by someone on the social media platform that they choose to use.

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