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Snapchat apologizes for ad mocking Rihanna, Chris Brown’s violent past

Mar 16, 2018, 3:38 PM
FILE - In this Sept. 19, 2017 file photo, singer Rihanna poses for photographers at the Fenty Beaut...

FILE - In this Sept. 19, 2017 file photo, singer Rihanna poses for photographers at the Fenty Beauty by Rihanna fashion range launch during London Fashion Week. An ad on Snapchat asking users if they’d rather “Slap Rihanna” or “Punch Chris Brown” has spawned widespread outrage, including from the singer herself. Rihanna, who Brown was convicted of assaulting when she was his girlfriend in 2009, posted a statement on her Snapchat and Instagram accounts saying the ad intentionally brings shame to domestic violence victims. (Photo by Vianney Le Caer/Invision/AP, File)

(Photo by Vianney Le Caer/Invision/AP, File)

Snapchat apologized on Wednesday for posting an ad on its app that made light of Rihanna and Chris Brown’s violent history.

The ad asked users if they’d rather “punch Chris Brown” or “slap Rihanna.”

Chris Brown was convicted of assaulting Rihanna in his car during a 2009 incident when the two pop stars were dating. Brown was sentenced to five years of probation, six years of community service and a year of domestic violence counseling.

Thousands of people saw the ad this week before Snapchat removed it.

Snapchat apologized for the ad in a statement sent to BBC News.

“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 statement said. “We are sorry that this happened.”

But Rihanna rejected the apology in her own Instagram Stories post.

“Now Snapchat, I know you already know you ain’t my fav app out there,” Rihanna wrote. “But I’m just trying to figure out what the point was with this mess! 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 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.”

A number of public figures picked up on the ad. Brittany Packnett, an American activist, called the ad “wack.”

In a reply tweet to Packnett, Chelsea Clinton, daughter of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, similarly gave the ad a thumbs down.

Snapchat’s ad policy includes an internal review of each ad before it ends up online, according to the company’s website.

“All ads are subject to our review and approval. We reserve the right to reject or remove any ad in our sole discretion for any reason,” the company’s website reads. “We also reserve the right to request modifications to any ad, and to require factual substantiation for any claim made in an ad.”

The company’s ad policy said it will block any material that is “shocking, sensational, or disrespectful content.”

The incident is the second blow to Snapchat in less than a month. In February, celebrity Kylie Jenner said in a tweet that she disliked Snapchat’s recent update, which included significant changes to the app’s format.

After Jenner’s tweet, Snap, the parent company of Snapchat, watched its shares drop 6.1 percent in the immediate aftermath, costing the company $1.3 billion in market value, Bloomberg reported.

However, Daniel Ives, chief strategy officer and head of technology research at GBH Insights, told CNN there wasn’t much need to panic.

“We believe this is an overreaction as Wall Street is hypersensitive to the app redesign,” he told CNN. “With roughly 25 million followers, (Jenner) carries a loud mouthpiece that speaks to today’s knee-jerk reaction in shares.”

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Snapchat apologizes for ad mocking Rihanna, Chris Brown’s violent past