Social Media
Snapchat and Spectacles. Image Credit: Snap

Snapchat and Spectacles. Image Credit: Snap

Snapchat and Snapdeal, both feeling the Indian wrath

Snapchat’s rating down to 1.5 on App Store after CEO’s alleged “poor country like India” remarks


April has been a “PR Disaster Management” month so far where companies like Pepsi and United Airlines have been facing a lot of heat, and apparently, Snap Inc (formerly known as Snapchat has also joined the ranks as well.

Indians took to the internet following allegations made by a former employee Anthony Pompliano that the CEO Evan Spiegel had said in a 2015 meeting that “I don’t want to expand into poor countries like India and Spain.”

Snap has denied that this statement ever took place, but unfortunately, it’s too late now. A day after the news broke, Snap’s iOS App store rating dropped to 1.5 for the current version and 2.5 overall. Interestingly at the time of writing the Google Play Store was still showing 4 stars from 11,939,025 reviews.

#boycottsnapchat and #UninstallSnapchat were trending on Twitter after the news hit the internet. Indians are uninstalling the app and are flocking to the App Store to give bad reviews to the company whose CEO has hurt their self-esteem.

Indians responding to comments on Snap

Others chose to take their protests to Twitter:

What further damage can this outrage cause?

Well, we recently saw United Airlines’ stock fall by 1.1%, wiping out almost $255 million from the company’s market capitalization after their recent “customer service” disaster. Snapchat also went public a few days back with its IPO, raised $3.4 billion. Though this not as big of a PR disaster as United Airlines’, but considering India to be a country with a lot of internet users, a bad PR may result in a slight decrease in stock value. The company has however not released any official views on the case yet and has taken a somewhat silent approach on the matter.

So far this has been pretty painful to their image in India. The ratings for the app have dropped significantly after the whole “poor country” fiasco. Here’s a rating snapshot:

Image Credit: Junaid Mohsin

The selected period is from 15-18 April. You can very well see a drop in positive ratings and a surge in 1-star ratings. Here’s another rating snapshot:

Image Credit: Junaid Mohsin

Thinking for a moment about whether there will be long-term implications for the company because of this controversy, it’s worth thinking about the app’s place in India. Snap has been widely popular among teens who used it for socializing and spreading awareness about a certain cause. But in terms of usage, India doesn’t even fall in the top 10 countries.

Image Credit: Junaid Mohsin

Snapchat’s early reputation in India was one of a teen social platform, used for sending flirty messages. The company came a long way to change its reputation, emerging as a platform where teens can open up about sensitive issues such as abuse and workplace exploitation. In 2015, Facebook also faced a similar situation where the social network’s feel-good project, Internet.org, which aims to bring free online access to under-served regions around the world, gained a lot of criticism in the name of net neutrality. I believe in a few days when the dust settles, the social media app will again gain its lost glory days. But for now, Snapchat needs to restore its image and convince the Indians that the accusations made by Anthony Pompliano are baseless.

Hopefully though, Snap and other global companies can take this as an opportunity to examine why India is actually an investment worth pursuing. The fact that India is a population of 1.2 billion with almost 20% of the population having access to the internet is reason enough for every IT company to start their operations in the country. Apart from offering cheap labor, India is also home to some of the most outstanding tech geniuses who have been working in top IT firms such as Google, Amazon, Microsoft, and Facebook.

Recent updates: Snapdeal, an Indian online store, is getting 1-star reviews because its name is similar to Snap

One of the side effects of all this hate directed at Snap has been the ricochets hitting companies with similar names. Where perhaps Snapdeal had hoped to capitalize on the similar sounding name, or just intended to give out good deals quickly, they are unfortunately paying the price for somebody else’s mess.

Snapdeal, an Indian eCommerce website, has been facing the heat ever since the Snap Inc fiasco broke out. Snapdeal’s Android and iOS apps have been receiving 1-star ratings from people who are mistaking the company for Snap.

So the PR team of both the companies, Snap and Snapdeal, have a rough week ahead. For now, it looks like the angry Indians are not going to let go of this Snapchat disaster anytime soon.

Photo courtesy: WikiMedia Commons

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