Snapchat has temporarily removed its Giphy GIF sticker feature after a user saw an extremely racist GIF as an option. Snapchat confirms to TechCrunch “As soon as we were made aware, we removed the GIF and have disabled Giphy until we can be sure that this won’t happen again.
A source tells TechCrunch the same racist GIF was spotted in Instagram as well, indicating that Giphy is at fault. A tweet by Lyauna Augmon shows the GIF being used within Instagram. Giphy appears to have removed the GIF as it’s no longer available in Instagram.
The Snapchat spokesperson says that all GIFs in Snapchat are meant to be “rated PG,” meaning they’re mostly suitable for the 13-and-up teens that are technically allowed on Snapchat. But now Snapchat tells me “We’ve disabled [the feature] while we wait for Giphy’s team to take a look at it.”
The GIF includes disturbing text including a racial slur, which TechCrunch has blurred out below. It reads “N—– Crime Death Counter – Keep Cranking Bonzo, the Numbers Just Keep on Climbing!” TechCrunch received a screenshot of the image from a reader. Warning: The image below may be disturbing to some:
Snapchat’s official statement is “We have removed GIPHY from our application until we can be assured that this will never happen again.” A Snapchat spokesperson tells me the company is very sorry. The Giphy community guidelines prohibit this kind of objectionable content in the first place, but since it works like a search engine that indexes the top GIFs on the web, things can slip through.
Here’s the version spotted on Instagram, censored by TechCrunch:
We’ve reached out to Giphy for comment but haven’t heard back. The Sun U.K. reports that the user who first spotted the racist GIF was 21-year-old William Parkes of Birmingham, England.
Snapchat only launched the Giphy integration on February 20th so people could jazz up their photos and videos with moving images curated as safe by the Giphy team. TechCrunch broke the news on Instagram building a similar Giphy integration in late January, which launched a week later. Instagram tells TechCrunch it hadn’t heard of the racist Giphy GIF situation and is investigating now. We’ll update with more info from Instagram as it emerges.
This isn’t Snapchat’s first run-in with racist content. Back in 2016 it was heavily criticized for creating an Asian “yellowface” stereotype augmented reality lens that gave people slanted eyes. Snapchat risks an unsavory reputation if it can’t keep its content under control. The slip-up could deter Snapchat from working more with outside developers, which it’s only recently allowed to bring content into its app via its Lens Studio and the Giphy integration.
Snapchat will have to decide whether it wants help from outsiders even if it can’t guarantee the quality or safety of their content, or whether it will go it alone in its battle with Facebook and Instagram.