Snapchat Backlash: When App Ratings Bear the Brunt of Public Anger

Let’s face it. The public loves to express its anger against a brand on Google Play Store, by uninstalling apps and downrating them. And at times, they can be so blinded by their fury that other apps with similar sounding names take a beating.

The Snapdeal – and Snapchat – controversy is only the latest such incident. After news recently surfaced of Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel allegedly calling India a “poor country”, many Indians, high on patriotic fervour, took to the Google Play Store and Apple App Store to downgrade Snapchat’s ratings.

Wrong Brand

Unfortunately, not all users got the brand right. Snapdeal, which is an Indian e-commerce site, faced some of the heat too. Why? Because it has a similar sounding name and a few users couldn’t differentiate between Snapchat and Snapdeal!

Some helpful users did try to bump up Snapdeal’s ratings again, apologising on behalf of the ignorant lot, but the damage was already done.

Snapdeal CEO Kunal Bahl found the situation pretty funny though.

Misguided Ire

It isn’t the first time that the Snapdeal app has had to bear the brunt of public ire. The company had actor Aamir Khan as its brand ambassador back in 2015. Snapdeal’s app was uninstalled and downgraded after Aamir commented about the growing intolerance in India. After the controversy, the company did not renew his contract.

Aamir Khan. (Photo: Yogen Shah)

United We Downgrade

Flipkart is another brand that had to face a 1-star rating and downgrade after it tied up with Airtel, as a part of Airtel Zero, because the brand was seen as going against the concept of net neutrality, for which Airtel was already facing flak. Flipkart quickly backed out of the deal saying it supported net neutrality, but the company had already taken a beating by then.

Flipkart had faced app users’ ire for its association with Airtel Zero. (Photo: Reuters)

Proud Nation

India is a proud nation and will not tolerate any insult to its national pride or symbols. Amazon recently faced backlash, app uninstalls and a poor rating after a seller was found selling doormats with the Indian tricolour printed on it.

Amazon faced flak for this product listing. (Photo: Amazon)

Easily Hurt

Indian e-commerce marketplace and payment platform, PayTM, also faced the ire of app users after a television commercial it launched just after demonetisation was seen as mocking the plight of many Indians.

Many gave the app a poor rating, even as it was being massively downloaded as an alternative payment platform, because of this ad. PayTM quickly changed its “Drama bandh karo” campaign to “hamari chinta na karo”.

@Sharanyashettyy @coolfunnytshirt @Paytm @vijayshekhar
Is it this ad?

— Oindrila Mojumder (@I_yam_nendu) November 13, 2016

coming back to the Snapchat row, its CEO, Evan Spiegel, has since said he never made those remarks. This controversy is not new and dates back to 2015, when an ex-employee claimed in a lawsuit against the company that Spiegel said he did not want to expand to “poor countries” such as India and Spain. This latest outrage, therefore, could be unfair to the brand.

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