Snapchat criticized for 'blackface' Bob Marley filter

A Snapchat filter that superimposes Bob Marley's dreadlocks and hat onto a person's face has been attacked as racist and disrespectful.

Some social media users likened it to a digital "blackface" - the practice in the early days of film where white actors would portray a black person.

Others thought its release - on April 20, a day associated with a counterculture celebration of marijuana - was playing into a simple stereotype of the reggae legend.

Others simply called it "creepy" and "freaky".

But some said they had no problem with the curious homage to Marley and posted pictures showing their Marley alter-ego.

Kylie Jenner was one of those to try out the strange effect, pulling in over 1,100 likes.

Snapchat was forced to put out a statement saying the gimmick had been produced with the blessing of Marley's family.

"The lens we launched today was created in partnership with the Bob Marley Estate, and gives people a new way to share their appreciation for Bob Marley and his music," said the statement. "Millions of Snapchatters have enjoyed Bob Marley's music, and we respect his life and achievements."