Texting behind the wheel isn't the only danger parents need to discuss with their children. A popular Snapchat filter has been linked to multiple car crashes, the most recent of which resulted in the death of a 22-year-old and four other people.
The controversial filter is a speedometer overlay, which some use to show off their need for speed. The latest of these incidents occurred in Tampa, Florida where Highway Patrol officers believe a video posted to Snapchat last Wednesday (Oct. 26) shows 22-year-old Pablo Cortes III speeding along a highway in an attempt to garner attention online.
The video begins with the speedometer filter showing "82.6 mph" before it ticks up to 115.6 mph. Those marks are in excess of the 50 mph speed limit.
Officials say the footage shows the moments prior to Cortes' Volkswagen Golf crossing a median and crashing head-on into a Toyota minivan. Cortes and his 19-year-old passenger Jolie Bartolome, who is believed to have posted the video, both died in the crash. The three passengers in the minivan, Marianela Murillo, 39, and her children John Bernal, 9, and Isabell Bernall, 10, also died.
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While some would blame Cortes for the crash, others point the blame at Snapchat for using the filter.
"Snapchat should remove this filter. People are using it for dangerous stunts and teens are crashing," said Amy Morin, a parenting expert and psychotherapist. As a company, that’s not something they should want to be associated with."
This isn't the first time the Snapchat filter has been tied to controversy, as a car crash on a highway outside Atlanta in 2015 led to a lawsuit against Snap Inc. (then Snapchat, Inc.) and a driver that may have been using the filter. That lawsuit is currently on hold for further investigation after Snapchat argued that activity logs show the app wasn't in use at the time of the crash or immediately prior to it.
Parents concerned about their children getting into similar incidents might want to remind their child that a license to drive isn't a license to risk their lives in search of internet fame. No amount of followers, likes and retweets is worth the price of a human life. But one expert says how you approach the subject is important.
Parents should talk to their kids about Snapchat," said Morin. Ask questions, like, 'Have you seen people use the filter that calculates their speed while their driving?' or 'Do you know any kids who are using this?' Open the door to communication without interrogating nor lecturing."
Morin added that you should use this opening to talk about the potential dangers and to share the stories of those who may have been killed while the filter was being used.