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 22 April, a day associated with a counterculture celebration of cannabis – was playing into a simple stereotype of the reggae legend.
“It’s disgusting to see what @Snapchat has done today. So we’re going to whittle Bob Marley down to weed. Plus blackface. Amazing. #its2016,” tweeted Jade Mc Donnough.
“That Bob Marley filter on snapchat is extremely disrespectful,” added @LoveSheaa.
Mack tweeted: “I’d count the number of things wrong with that Bob Marley Snapchat filter, but I don’t have time to count to infinity.”
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.
American reality star 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.
It said 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.”