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How Snapchat and stupidity almost left five people dead

Snapchat Speed Filter Accident

Snapchat’s speed filter is an awful, awful idea. For those unaware, it’s a feature of the popular messaging app Snapchat that uses sensors in a smartphone to record the speed at which a user is traveling when he or she sends a message. Users earn trophies for reaching high speeds, so needless to say they often try to send snaps from fast-moving cars. And if they’re stupid enough, they try to send snaps while they’re driving fast-moving cars.

Enter Christal McGee, an 18-year-old girl from Atlanta who almost killed herself and left another driver with brain injuries when she struck his car at over 100 mph while using Snapchat.

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There is little question that Snapchat’s speed filter encourages young users to do things that aren’t smart, but it takes someone truly special to push things as far as Christal McGee did. While driving her parent’s Mercedes down the highway in Atlanta, Georgia last September, McGee decided to test the limits of the speed filter.

With three passengers in the car, McGee used Snapchat to take selfies while traveling at speeds as fast as 113 mph, according to the speed filter in the Snapchat app. With her attention on her phone instead of on the road, the teenager didn’t see Wentworth Maynard merging onto the highway ahead.

McGee struck the man’s car while traveling at 107 mph, a lawsuit filed by Maynard says. According to NY Daily News, the lawsuit seeks unspecified damages from McGee and Snapchat, which is named in the lawsuit because the company’s speed filter “motivated” McGee’s reckless driving. Maynard, an Uber driver, was left with brain damage that his lawyers say will prevent him from doing his job.

“We’ll see to it that Christal McGee is held responsible, but we also want to see Snapchat held responsible,” one of Maynard’s attorneys said in a statement. “This is a product liability case because Snapchat put something very dangerous in the marketplace without any warnings or safeguards, and basically said, whatever happens, happens.”

And now, the cherry on top: Following the crash that could easily have left all five people dead, McGee sent the following snap while lying bloody on a gurney in the back of an ambulance:

Zach Epstein

Zach Epstein has worked in and around ICT for more than 15 years, first in marketing and business development with two private telcos, then as a writer and editor covering business news, consumer electronics and telecommunications. Zach’s work has been quoted by countless top news publications in the US and around the world. He was also recently named one of the world's top-10 “power mobile influencers” by Forbes, as well as one of Inc. Magazine's top-30 Internet of Things experts.

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