Days after social media users called out Snapchat for running an ad making light of a 2009 domestic abuse case involving Rihanna and then-boyfriend Chris Brown, Rihanna took to Instagram Stories to criticize its rival.
The ad, a promotion for the mobile video game “Would You Rather,” posted animations of Rihanna and Brown, asking users if they’d rather “slap Rihanna” or “punch Chris Brown.” (Brown pleaded guilty to assaulting Rihanna to the point of hospitalization in the 2009 incident.) Today, Rihanna broke her silence via Instagram Stories—a statement in itself, considering the similarities between the two platforms—highlighting the problematic nature of the ad as it relates to domestic violence.
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“Now SNAPCHAT I know you already know you ain’t my fav app out there!” Rihanna wrote. “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 out 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.”
While Rihanna blamed Snapchat directly, the ad wasn’t created by the company. Like most ads, it was bought through Snapchat’s self-service advertising platform, where brands can buy ad space on their own even though all ads are subject to review. However, that doesn’t mean the platform is blameless. Before Rihanna’s statement, Snapchat had already apologized for letting the ad run, saying it was “reviewed and approved in error” even though it violated company policies. The company said it immediately removed the ad and blocked the advertiser.
“This advertisement is disgusting and never should have appeared on our service,” a Snap Inc. spokesperson said in a statement to Adweek following Rihanna’s post. “We are so sorry we made the terrible mistake of allowing it through our review process. We are investigating how that happened so that we can make sure it never happens again.”
But the apology was too little, too late. An hour after the post, Snap Inc. shares fell 4.9 percent before rebounding slightly, ending the day down 3.61 percent. It marks the second time in less than a month that a celebrity’s comments about the app devalued its stock. On Feb. 21, shares fell 6.1 percent after celebrity Kylie Jenner tweeted that she no longer uses the app.
“[S]ooo does anyone else not open Snapchat anymore? Or is it just me … ugh this is so sad,” Jenner tweeted at the time.