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Fans of the popular musician are deleting the social network, and its stock has plummeted. Snap shares fell 4 percent on Thursday in the hours after Rihanna posted her response to the ad.
Created for a mobile game called “Would You Rather?” the ad displayed photos of Rihanna and her ex-boyfriend Chris Brown, asking users if they would rather “Slap Rihanna” or “Punch Chris Brown?” The insensitive joke was a reference to 2009 assault charges against Brown, who was found guilty of punching Rihanna and threatening to kill her. The incident made headlines around the world after photos of Rihanna’s bruised face circulated across the internet.
The ad first surfaced on Tuesday and spread like wildfire thanks to the efforts of domestic abuse activists. Snap released a statement a day later, explaining it was published “in error” and had been removed immediately. Somehow, the ad made it through the company’s review process and showed up on user’s feeds.
“The advert was reviewed and approved in error, as it violates our advertising guidelines,” the company said. “We immediately removed the ad last weekend, once we became aware. We are sorry that this happened.”
Rihanna, posting from Instagram, Snapchat’s biggest rival, expressing her disappoint with the service. She said it “let us down” and asked Snapchat to spare her an apology.
“Now SNAPCHAT I know you already know you ain’t my fav app out there! But I’m just trying to figure out what the point was with this mess! I’d love to call it ignorance, but I know you ain’t that dumb! You spent money to animate something that would intentionally bring shame to DV victims and made a joke of it!!!! This isn’t about my personal feelings, cause I don’t have much of them…but all the women, children and men that have been victims of DV in the past and especially the ones who haven’t made it out yet….you let us down! Shame on you. Throw the whole app-oligy away.”
Rihanna’s dedicated following took the statement as a call to action to delete Snapchat. Dozens of fans tweeted Thursday threatening to leave the app. Some wondered whether it could ever recover. Many of these posts were favorited by thousands of users.
Is it just me, or is this ad that popped up on my Snapchat extremely tone deaf? Like what were they thinking with this? pic.twitter.com/7kP9RHcgNG— Royce Mann (@TheRoyceMann) March 12, 2018
Rihanna said we should delete our snapchat for their domestic abuse joke. Our president has spoken therefore i’m deleting snapchat. pic.twitter.com/nLvB2okCRa— c (@kidcudison) March 15, 2018
Rihanna: “Throw the whole snapchat app away”— Nigeria's🇳🇬Finest™ (@DMV_Drummerboyy) March 15, 2018
OKAY RIHANNA SAYS SNAPCHAT IS OVER WE'RE ALL INSTA STORY HOES NOW LADIES OKAY pic.twitter.com/peUjpTZf2s— andile (@INDIEWASHERE) March 15, 2018
This is the second major slip-up for the app that already finds itself in danger of becoming irrelevant. A few weeks ago, reality TV show personality Kylie Jenner slammed Snapchat for its polarizing redesign.
sooo does anyone else not open Snapchat anymore? Or is it just me... ugh this is so sad.— Kylie Jenner (@KylieJenner) February 21, 2018
“sooo does anyone else not open Snapchat anymore? Or is it just me… ugh this is so sad,” Jenner tweeted to her 24.5 million followers.
The market responded. Snapchat spiraled 7.5 percent and lost $1.6 billion in market value. If the struggling company is going to compete with the likes of Facebook and Instagram, it first and foremost needs to keep its most valued creators on its side.
Phillip Tracy is a former technology staff writer at the Daily Dot. He's an expert on smartphones, social media trends, and gadgets. He previously reported on IoT and telecom for RCR Wireless News and contributed to NewBay Media magazine. He now writes for Laptop magazine.