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The maker of the Snapchat app is eliminating a feature known as the “speed filter” that lets users capture how fast they are moving and share it with friends, NPR has learned.The move is a dramatic reversal for Snap, Inc., which introduced the feature in 2013. Since then, Snap has defended the feature in the face of warnings from safety advocates who have argued that it encourages reckless driving. The company has also faced lawsuits from the families of those who have been injured or killed in car crashes where drivers were moving at excessive speeds, allegedly to score bragging rights on the app.

Critics of the speed filter welcomed the news, while also questioning the delay.

“Lives will be saved. Crashes will be prevented, but the lawyer in me says, ‘My God, why did it take so long?’ ” said Joel Feldman, the co-founder of the nonprofit End Distracted Driving, one of the groups that urged Snapchat to remove the speed filter.

What exactly led Snap to scrap the feature now is unclear. Over several weeks, NPR asked Snap a series of questions about why it had stood by the speed filter for so long. A company spokeswoman told NPR, “Nothing is more important than the safety of our Snapchat community.”

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