That Ad About Slapping Rihanna Reportedly Cost Snapchat $800 Million

Photo: LUDOVIC MARIN/AFP/Getty Images.
On Thursday, Rihanna showed the world that domestic violence is no joking matter when she called out an offensive advertisement with serious results. Snap, the parent company of Snapchat, experienced an $800 million drop in market value over Thursday and Friday, after the pop star and global education advocate expressed her disappointment over an offensive ad which appeared on its platform.
“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!” Rihanna wrote on her Instagram story. Her statement was in response to an ad for a mobile version of the game “Would You Rather?” which asked users whether they would choose to “Slap Rihanna” or “Punch Chris Brown.” This question is exceptionally insensitive given that in 2009, Brown plead guilty to beating Rihanna during argument while they were dating. “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 make a joke of it.”
The singer underscored how the offensive ad shames domestic violence victims in its depiction. “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!” wrote Rihanna before adding, “Shame on you.”
The sudden and shocking drop which caused Snap CEO Evan Spiegel’s personal net worth to plummet by $150 million is being referred to by Forbes as the “Rihanna Effect.” In a statement issued to CNN, Snap called the ad “disgusting,” before explaining that they are now investigating how it happened “so that we can make sure it never happens again.”
The incident calls into question the use of self-service ad platforms often employed by social networking platforms such as Snapchat, Twitter, and Facebook. The ad platforms allow companies to buy ad space on apps with little to no human interaction in the approval process. While Snapchat’s policies don’t allow for “content depicting excessive violence,” algorithms meant to catch crude content can easily miss what doesn’t fit specific parameters.
Rihanna is the latest celebrity to make a stock-sinking comment about the social media platform. Last month, Kylie Jenner tweeted that she will no longer use the app following a redesign that users almost unanimously agreed made the interface too confusing. As a result, Snap lost $1.3 billion in market value.
After Rihanna’s rebuke, Snapchat can’t afford another misstep. The company may need to reconsider the extent it utilizes self-service ad platforms to avoid future pitfalls.
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