Don’t mess with Rihanna, Snapchat!

People have been talking about the power Social Media for nearly 2 decades now. Yes, we’re counting all the way back to the Battle in Seattle when tens of thousands of protesters overshadowed the World Trade Organisation conference. An event often referred to as the birth of Social Media Activism – when the internet, blogs and message boards were first used to rally public opinion and action.

Since then, revolutions were organised, movements started, presidents elected (or rejected), and organisations and personalities alike have been subject to fame and infamy all because Social Media was used effectively somewhere along the way. The latest victim, or assailant in this instance, to bear wave after wave of attacks is non-other than the internet’s once beloved app; Snapchat.

A few days ago, a third-party advert ran on Snapchat promoting a “Would You Rather?” game which asked people “Would you rather slap Rihanna, or punch Chris Brown?”. Now just to clarify, this was not an ad by Snapchat itself, but and ad run by one of its clients. Nevertheless, Snapchat claims in its advertising policy that “all ads are subject to our review and approval" and that "Shocking, sensational, or disrespectful content” will not be permitted to run on the platform. However, the ad ran anyway, and to Snap’s dismay, before they discovered their “terrible mistake”, Rhianna did. 


Rihanna took to Social Media, in this case Instagram Stories – Snapchat’s mortal enemy, to show Snapchat, and the world, how she feels. Here’s an extract from Riri’s rant:

“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 [domestic violence] victims and made a joke out it!!!”

It didn’t take long for the internet’s who’s who to react to Rihanna’s post - echoing her disgust and hammering Snapchat with unrelenting criticism. Rihanna and likeminded celebrities have reacted to the debacle by asking their followers to delete and boycott the app, with many users more than happy to oblige.

It’s safe to say that Snapchat’s stock price was the first to feel the heavy blow. Before the company had managed to put out a formal apology, their stock value had dropped over 6% - losing the company more than $1.2B of its value within 48 hours with no sign of recovery yet. To Snap’s apology Rihanna masterfully said: “Throw the whole app-oligy away.”

As with many similar cases, timing was key - in this case, to Snapchat’s detriment. It was only last month that Snapchat launched a major update with a complete redesign to their app. The update was so unpopular that a petition was signed on by more than half a million people from around the world asking Snapchat to go back to the original design. Many said the app they once loved became “useless” and “unfriendly”. They also cited Instagram Stories as their new preferred platform.

As things stand, it’s not looking like 2018 is going to be a fun year for Snapchat, with a 165m usership that continues to decline daily. Further north on the sunny coast of California, Instagram is revelling in one success after the other with a constantly expanding audience of over 250m people using Instagram Stories every day.  

Mike Adly

Social & Content Strategy Partner