Until now the dangers posed by social media weighed primarily on the responsibility of its users. But, a recent Snapchat advertisement made a quick change of that with a personal slam at one of the app’s biggest celebrity users, Rihanna, a.k.a. @badgalriri.
The ad asks users if they would rather “slap” Rihanna or “punch” Chris Brown, a joke which was intended to make light of the rapper’s 2009 felony assault charges. Brown’s arrest and subsequent guilty plea gained media attention due to the couple’s celebrity status and the shocking allegations, which according to the affidavit, alleged he pushed Rihanna’s head against the window, punched her with his right hand and then continued driving while hitting her.
Domestic Violence is not something to be made fun of and the post was incredibly insensitive. Once it started to draw criticism from other means of social media, it was quickly removed, but by this time the damage was already done and the internet was agog.
Is it just me, or is this ad that popped up on my Snapchat extremely tone deaf? Like what were they thinking with this? pic.twitter.com/7kP9RHcgNG
— Royce Mann (@TheRoyceMann) March 12, 2018
Twitter, naturally responded the way you would have expected, with a number of predatory tweets calling for the resignation of Snap Inc. CEO Evan Spiegel, as well as tweets, aimed at boycotting the popular social media platform.
In response to the backlash, Snap Inc. issued a statement. “The advert was reviewed and approved in error, as it violates our advertising guidelines. We immediately removed the ad last weekend, once we became aware,” the BBC reports. “We’re sorry that it happened.”
But the apology was clearly not enough for Rihanna, who also went onto social media to express her frustration with the advertisement and its depiction of domestic violence.
In the post, she states: “You spent money to animate something that would intentionally bring shame to DV victims and made a joke 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.”
Rihanna has a right to be mad. The joke was clearly insensitive and purposefully constructed with the intentions of appealing to younger audiences by glorifying domestic abuse.
According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV), in the United States, almost 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner. This equates to approximately more than 10 million women and men in one year. The NCADV is an organization dedicated to creating a culture where domestic violence is not tolerated and where society empowers victims, survivors, and holds abusers accountable.
Following the most recent statement from the Roc Nation musician, the social media company’s stocks dropped an estimated 4 percent. According to The New York Times, the social media company has been struggling since it became publicly traded last year.
While the company was right to immediately remove the advertisement, it raises a much bigger issue that still needs to be addressed… why must Snapchat force advertisements on users without taking premiums from every brand name or product which already have their own accounts? How come clickbait and non-product based ads such as this can get through?
Snapchat will most likely look at adding more oversight, possibly hiring an editorial staff to review advertisements such as these from going out and taking measures to prevent them from popping up in the future. And if they really want to take things a step further… it might be worthwhile to donate some money to domestic violence hotlines and organizations who are there to provide help to victims.
Be sure to check out Salute Magazine every Friday for Senior Editor Daniel Offner’s weekly column, “Sounding OFF.”