Is this the Slow and Steady Demise of Snapchat?

Snapchat’s stock has plunged again with the social media company’s latest mistake. On Thursday last week, CNN reported a drop of 4% in Snapchat’s stock after it ran an ad promoting an app called “Would You Rather?” with the following image:

The ad asks users if they would rather “Slap Rihanna” or “Punch Chris Brown”, clearly referring to the incidence of domestic violence in 2009, where Chris Brown assaulted then-girlfriend Rihanna. Snapchat issued a public apology for having run the ad, but the damage had already been done.

The singer herself to respond to Snapchat’s apologies on her Instagram Story, expressing her anger and disappointment that Snapchat would “[spend] money to animate something that would intentionally bring shame to DV victims and [make] a joke of it”. She then asked Snapchat to “[t]hrow the whole app-oligy away”, which some of her fans have taken to mean that they ought to delete their Snapchat accounts.

Although the ad was not created by Snapchat and the company has reassured its users that ads with such content violates its advertising guidelines, many are shocked and disappointed that the ad was allowed through the company’s filters. In fact, this is the second time in the past month that users have seen offensive content on the social media platform.

Image courtesy of TechCrunch.

Earlier this month, Snapchat (and Instagram) temporarily removed its integration of GIPHY GIF stickers after a user found a racist GIF (pictured on the left) in the GIF library and used it in a snap on the platform. GIPHY later issued a statement taking full responsibility for the mistake, stating that a “bug in [their] content moderation filters” had allowed the offensive GIF to slip through.

Although GIPHY did take responsibility for the blunder, the fact that such a GIF was made available on the Snapchat platform, even for a brief period of time, upset many users. Given that the general sentiment of the platform has been quite negative, what with the change to Snapchat’s feed late last year drawing the ire of many of its users, these slip-ups do little to help with the company’s image.

As if Snapchat were not having a hard enough time already, several tweets have been made by both celebrities and brands in recent months, asking whether Snapchat remains relevant to their fans.

Last month, Kylie Jenner tweeted about how she her use of Snapchat has diminished.

In a now-deleted tweet, beauty brand Maybelline asked its customers if Snapchat was still an effective way to reach out to them, citing that their Snapchat views had “dropped dramatically” over time.

Image courtesy of AdAge.

That there has been a general exodus of users from the platform is clear. Snapchat’s multiple gaffes do nothing to aid in stemming the flow of its users away from itself to similar social media platforms like Instagram. The company has introduced several business-friendly changes over the past few months, such as Snapchat Insights (providing data and analytics) and Lens Studio (allowing creators to design their own augmented reality lenses) to give advertisers greater access to information and freedom to market their goods and services on the platform. If the company wants to keep its head above water, however, it needs to work harder not just to make the platform more useful to businesses but also to ensure that it remains palatable to its users.

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