Social media platforms are major portals for people, especially teens and young adults. Social media has and continues to need rigorous guidelines for everything the sites present to their users. These guideline should be even tougher for advertisers since they would want to stand out while making their ads relevant enough and following the app’s guidelines. Strict rules like these would have come in handy when it relates to Snapchat’s recent advertising controversy surrounding Rihanna, and by extension, domestic violence survivors in which Snapchat published an advertising game, which encouraged users whether they would rather slap Rihanna or punch Chris Brown.
The controversy behind this idea surrounds the fact that both Rihanna and Chris Brown dated in the past. Many people would recall hearing about a fight in Brown’s car in 2009, where Brown assaulted Rihanna. Brown later pleaded guilty to one count of felony assault, according to Variety. The event took over the media and is still used as an example of domestic violence and how it can affect anyone.
Following the controversy, outraged users voiced their opinions on Twitter, complaining that Snapchat was irresponsible and wondered how the ad was even approved to go onto the platform.People began questioning the accuracy and perspective in which they approved their ads. In addition, Rihanna spoke out about it through a message posted on her Instagram story where she stated that, “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 [domestic violence] 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.”
Snapchat later apologized saying the advertisement was reviewed and approved in error, due to the importance and relevance of this platform in people’s social lives, these types of mistakes should never happen at all. Mistakes like these not only cost social media platforms the trust of their consumers, but platforms can potentially also lose money, as Snapchat has. Since, the platform’s stock sank as much as five percent after Rihanna responded to the company.
I think that this consequence was fair since the advertisement was really inappropriate any way you look at it. The fact that Snapchat realized this wrong-doing after users complained of it on Twitter shows how this company may not be as engaged in the supervision of their ads as they should be.
Platforms should be more aware of the types of ads they allow on their sites and follow-up on them to make sure they don’t break any guidelines, especially as the world heads to a digital era where everyone will be able to see and comment everything, good or bad, that a platform does.