Snapchat removes 'speed filter' amid safety concerns over reckless driving

The filter, which allowed users to share their current speed, has been linked to several car crashes involving teens and young people.

Marguerite Reardon Former senior reporter
Marguerite Reardon started as a CNET News reporter in 2004, covering cellphone services, broadband, citywide Wi-Fi, the Net neutrality debate and the consolidation of the phone companies.
Marguerite Reardon
2 min read
Snapchat logo on a phone screen

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

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Snap has removed the controversial "speed filter" from its popular social media app Snapchat, as earlier reported by 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, introduced in 2013, 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." 

A spokeswoman for Snap confirmed to CNET the app had been removed. She added that "nothing is more important than the safety of our Snapchat community."  She also said that the "speed" sticker is barely used by Snapchatters, and in light of that, the company decided to remove it altogether.