The moments before a crash that took the lives of five people in Tampa, including two children, were captured through a Snapchat video that used the speed filter. Perhaps when Snapchat conceived the idea of this filter, they envisioned users sharing their speeds as they jumped from airplanes, biked on country paths, flew in a plane, or ran a marathon. Unfortunately, this filter is likely used all too often to brag about speeds reached while driving. In the Tampa tragedy, the passenger was holding the phone, but in other instances, this filter might also tempt the driver to hold the phone while driving. Either way, the user is literally driven to achieve the highest speed possible.
The Tampa accident is definitely not the first. Outside Atlanta in 2015, a driver trying to use the filter to record a speed over 100 mph hit another car that had merged onto the highway in a 55 mph zone. After the resulting high-speed crash, the driver of the second car was left with a traumatic brain injury.
So far, Snapchat has not responded to criticism by removing the filter. In my opinion, the company has a responsibility to be a good corporate citizen by providing a product that does not encourage behavior that can lead to tragic outcomes. In the Indemnification Clause in the Terms & Conditions (#13), users of Snapchat cannot sue the company for any damages or losses relating to the use of the app. The company claims that they warn users not to use the filter while driving. In an email response to a Techcrunch reporter, the company said, “No Snap is more important than someone’s safety. We actively discourage our community from using the speed filter while driving, including by displaying a ‘Do NOT Snap and Drive’ warning message in the app itself.”
But really, what is the point of this app other than to use it while driving? Most people are not achieving high speeds doing anything else.
It’s time, Snapchat, to be a responsible company and protect your users by removing this app. In the meantime, parents should continue talk to their children about the dangers of using this filter (or the phone at all) while driving.