Back in May, Snapchat was accused of “whitewashing” selfies in a couple of its filters, including one called “beautify,” leading to much criticism from users. In an effort to keep the app fresh, Snapchat swaps in new filters frequently. Now, the popular image-sharing app is taking heat once again over two new filters that apparently closely resemble previously published creations of two well-known makeup artists.
The alleged idea theft gained significant attention after a story appeared in The Ringer, which revealed the artists each inadvertently discovered that Snapchat had apparently copied some of their more unique makeup designs. Mykie, a makeup artist with more than 1 million followers on Instagram, credits social media for building her career, but was surprised to discover Snapchat’s rainbow tears filter so closely resembled her own work, which she had published a year earlier.
Mykie told The Ringer that she reached out to Snapchat, only to get a response that the company didn’t “believe that the filter infringes on any copyright.” However, after she posted the above image to her Instagram account, Snapchat soon removed the filter from the app. The exact same thing happened with another makeup artist, Argenis Pinal, who said Snapchat’s Joker filter was almost identical to his own creation. That filter, too, was removed after Pinal posted a comparison photo to Instagram, where he has more than 100,000 followers.
As seen in PetaPixel, Snapchat has since issued an official response to The Ringer, admitting the company had overstepped when seeking inspiration for its filters, although falling short of an apology: “The creative process sometimes involves inspiration, but it should never result in copying. We have already implemented additional layers of review for all designs. Copying other artists isn’t something we will tolerate, and we’re taking appropriate action internally with those involved.”
While artists may find it disheartening that it took so much public attention to motivate Snapchat to take action, at least it looks like preventative measures are now in place to keep this from happening in the future. Snapchat’s selfie filters are a huge hit, and the company is pouring resources into creating more, most recently with the acquisition of computer vision startup Seene.