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Snapchat apologizes for running tone-deaf ad about Chris Brown assaulting Rihanna
After receiving complaints, Snapchat has taken down an advertisement for a Would You Rather-style app that asked viewers if they’d prefer to “slap Rihanna” or “punch Chris Brown.”
The image was a reference to Brown’s 2009 assault against the pop star, which left her face famously battered before they were set to perform at the Grammys. The discourse around gender violence in the entertainment industry has certainly evolved in the nine years since the incident, but somehow the graphic made it through Snapchat’s vetting process and into the feeds of users this week.
Royce Mann was one of the first to tweet about the ad’s offensive premise, and activists like Brittany Packnett helped the story gain traction.
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
I know that social media ads go through an approval process from the platform.
This means @Snapchat approved an ad that makes light of domestic violence.
The update ain’t the only thing that’s wack over there, friends. https://t.co/PmbJn4zCel
— Brittany Packnett (@MsPackyetti) March 12, 2018
Just awful. Awful that anyone thinks this is funny. Awful that anyone thinks this is appropriate. Awful that any company would approve this. Thank you Brittany for calling this out.
— Chelsea Clinton (@ChelseaClinton) March 12, 2018
In a statement issued to the BBC on Tuesday, Snapchat apologized for not catching the inappropriate messaging in their review process. “The advert was reviewed and approved in error, as it violates our advertising guidelines. We immediately removed the ad last weekend, once we became aware,” the company wrote. “We are sorry that this happened.”
The company did not remark on the particulars of how the ad got approved, or whether it plans to alter the review process to ensure similar ads don’t get published again.
The image was reportedly only served to Snapchat users in the U.S., and has since been pulled from the platform.
Christine Friar is a writer and editor in New York who focuses on streaming entertainment and internet culture. Her work has appeared in the Awl, the Fader, New York Magazine, Paper Magazine, Vogue, Elle, and more.