There’s a time and a place for using the cat filter on Facebook and I think we could all agree a press conference about murder is not one of those occasions, but unfortunately the technology got the best of police in Canada.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police held a conference on Friday (July 19) where they shared details about a double homicide involving 24-year-old American Chynna Noelle Deese and 23-year-old Australian Lucas Robertson Fowler, who were found dead on a remote highway earlier this week.
The event was serious and sombre, as would be expected, but those watching on Facebook live were baffled by the stark contrast of the nature of the news and the image of the person delivering it.
During the live stream, Sgt. Janelle Shoihet sported some pink cat ears and whiskers as the app’s cat filter had accidentally been applied.
Though it says a lot for the impressive facial recognition software, I don’t think it was quite the look the smartly-dressed sergeant was going for.
Screenshots of the unfortunate filter soon made their way across the internet and one concerned Twitter user tagged the police to draw attention to their mistake.
— Mercedes Stephenson (@MercedesGlobal) July 19, 2019
During the press conference the Royal Canadian Mounted Police responded to say they were aware of the issue, explaining:
Yes we are aware and addressing it as it’s an automatic setting. Thank you, we will rectify and issue a video shortly.
Now, I may not be a tech expert but I’m pretty sure the different Facebook filters are controlled by a simple swipe across the screen – it seems unlikely Mark Zuckerberg would automatically force everyone to do live streams as fluffy little felines.
Yes we are aware and addressing it as it's an automatic setting. Thank you, we will rectify and issue a video shortly.
— BCRCMP (@BCRCMP) July 19, 2019
However the police obviously couldn’t solve this particular mystery and so decided to re-record the entire press conference – this time without the filter – sharing it on Facebook.
Twitter users were quick to criticise and make jokes about the blunder, despite efforts to rectify the issue:
I will say this…it would certainly make you paws and pay attention!
— Rebecca Surette (@Mamanyt) July 21, 2019
This isn’t the first time Facebook’s cat filter has accidentally made its way into an official live stream; last month members of Pakistan’s government were accidentally turned into adorable-looking animals during a press briefing.
At the time, the government called the mistake a ‘human error’, contrasting the Canadian police’s ‘automatic’ excuse.
If officials are going to keep accidentally using filters like this they’re going to have to get their stories straight when it comes to placing the blame!
If you have a story you want to tell, send it to [email protected]
Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University, and went on to become a freelance writer and blogger. Emily contributed to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming a journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news as well as longer form features.