Alleged ‘poor India’ remarks by Snapchat’s CEO provokes outrage

Indians turn to boycotting app in a knee-jerk move

News - India & You

Society

April 18, 2017

/ By / Kolkata

The Snapchat App, known for many filters including the rainbow, is being boycotted in India

The Snapchat App, known for many filters including the rainbow, is being boycotted in India

Even as Snap has tried clearing the air, many Indians took to boycotting Snapchat as backlash against the CEO’s alleged remarks.

Snap Inc, the maker of the application Snapchat has been grabbing headlines as remarks allegedly made by the company’s CEO, Evan Spiegel has hurt sentiments of increasingly sensitive Indians. The remark in question remains unverified as it has come from the content of a court complaint made by an ex-employee. However, some Indians in their outrage over the perceived insult to the country have turned to vengeful social media action against the application by encouraging a boycott via uninstallation and bad reviews.

Hashtags like #BoycottSnapchat and #UninstallSnapchat were trending on social media sites such as Twitter a few days ago after news reports of Spiegel being quoted on his exchange with the former employee surfaced. Anthony Pompilano, the ex-employee in question, had revealed the conversation with Spiegel from September 2015 where international growth plans for the app were being discussed. Here, Spiegel was quoted saying that the app was meant “only for rich people” and that he didn’t “want to expand into poor countries like India and Spain.”

Responding to the outrage that has followed in India, Snap’s spokesperson shared with media, “Obviously, Snapchat is for everyone! It’s available worldwide to download for free. Those words were written by a disgruntled former employee. We are grateful for our Snapchat community in India and around the world.” Not only did Indians take to uninstalling the Snapchat app as well as leave bad reviews, an e-commerce site based in India, Snapdeal was targeted too, perhaps for sharing a similar name. Revealing the dangerous trend of jumping on the bandwagon of criticising and bashing without so much as a cursory background check of where the comment came from and under what circumstances it was made, India is definitely proving that many of its netizens have zero patience when it comes to thinking before acting.

Rich India?

Even as Spiegel’s remarks remain unverified and based purely on an allegation, the fact that so many Indians found them offensive is alarming. Many took to expressing the facts on India’s high Gross Domestic Product, or its tag as being among the world’s fastest developing nations as a showcase of how ‘rich’ the country is. Stacking facts without the whole-picture and bringing culture and national pride into the mix, Indians were fast to deny the harsh reality of the entrenched poverty that India faces.

Even if official statistics are to be taken, over 20 pc of India lives Below the Poverty Line, a measure which in itself is quite questionable. Global rankings of India reveal a starker picture, with India ranking 150 in the world, according to the World Bank, when analysed on per capita Gross National Income or average income. No matter of pride, in a country where income disparity remains glaring, India has also ranked 131st in the Human Development Index and is home to over 200 million food-insecure Indians. If these facts are to reveal anything, it is the fact that Spiegel’s alleged remarks, are quite grounded in reality if his target audience really are the affluential. Perhaps the truth is a bitter pill for many to swallow or rather quite not the snapchat story they’d like to share.

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