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Lawsuit blames Snapchat’s speed filter for Georgia car crash

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Why you shouldn't snap and drive

A young girl trying to capture the perfect Snapchat is nothing out of the ordinary — but a speeding selfie comes with its costs. A new lawsuit alleges that Snapchat's speed filter, which lets users display the speed at which they're moving while taking a photo, encourages reckless driving and can cause automobile crashes.

Distracted driving

On September 10th, 2015, 18-year-old Christal McGee was caught up with trying to get over 100 mph on Snapchat's speed filter and failed to notice Wentworth Maynard's car pull onto the Georgia highway she was speeding on. At around 11:15PM, McGee struck Maynard's Mitsubishi Outlander at 107 mph on a road where the speed limit was 55 mph.

"Snapchat's speed filter facilitated McGee's excessive speeding. McGee was motivated to drive at an excessive speed in order to obtain recognition through Snapchat by the means of a Snapchat 'trophy,'" the complaint states. In fact, even after the accident, McGee took to the social media platform to post another bloody-faced selfie with the caption "Lucky to be alive."

Maynard, an Uber driver, did not resume his shift that night— instead, he began a five-week stay at a hospital and now suffers from permanent brain damage. His lawyers claim that he lost 50 pounds, requires a walker or wheelchair to get around, and cannot work or support himself. They are now are suing McGee and Snapchat. Maynard and his wife — who was also in the car at the time of the accident — are seeking damages to cover his medical bills.

Snapchat: ignorant or innocent?

Prior to this incident, petitions on change.org have called on Snapchat to remove the speed filter but to no avail. The lawsuit goes on to suggest that despite knowledge of the dangers of the filter, Snapchat refuses to change or remove it. It cites a particular case from July 2015 where a woman in Brazil suffered from severe injuries after a car wreck caused by driving at 110 mph. A study by AT&T showed that "nearly 4-in-10 social media users tap into social media while driving."

Snapchat has an in-app warning which deters users from using the filter while driving. Their terms of service say, "Do not use our Services in a way that could distract you from obeying traffic or safety laws. And never put yourself or others in harm's way just to capture a Snap." Despite this, the the lawsuit says that Snapchat's negligence is concurrent with McGee's. The lawyers note that Snapchat has a "responsibility to act reasonably to take steps to eliminate risks associated with their products," which it failed to do because it has not removed or restricted the speed filter yet.