In an apparent reaction to Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel’s purported disinterest in expanding business to “poor countries” like India, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said Facebook is for everyone and not just for “the high end”. In a subtle jab at Spiegel, Zuckerberg told TechCrunch on the sidelines of the annual Facebook F8 developer conference in San Jose on Tuesday: “I think one thing that people probably don’t think about as much as we do is innovation to serve everyone in the community, not just the high end, right? So we focus on a lot of things like Facebook Lite. It’s up to 200 million people in like a year”.
Last week, US-based news website Variety quoted Snapchat’s ex-employee Anthony Pompliano as saying that Spiegel in September 2015 told him that “the app is only for rich people. I don’t want to expand into poor countries like India and Spain”.
Indians did not take the comment lightly and took to social media to lash out at the statement from the CEO. As the ratings of the app dropped, the criticism of the CEO and the app increased. The controversy also resulted in the rating of the popular app dropping to a “single star” from an apparent “five star” on the App Store.
Snapchat’s parent company Snap Inc later denied the allegation, saying no such remark was made by CEO Spiegel. “The simple fact is that he (Pompliano) knows exactly nothing about Snap’s current metrics. He and his lawyers are — not to put too fine a point on matters — just making things up,” Variety reported Snap’s attorneys as saying in another report.
Denying the claims of Snapchat being termed as a “rich people’s app”, the attorneys termed Pompliano a “disgruntled employee fired for poor performance”.
Some users wrote, “Poor India & Spain need better than Snapchat”, “Good bye, My Snapchat Account and Snap Inc. You’ll be product of gone by era and derision”, and “Poor Evan Spiegel”.
The app was also trolled on Twitter. #boycottsnapchat became the most trending hashtag on Twitter overnight. “I haven’t seen any Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians etc Tweets yet. Thanks @Snapchat for uniting us,” a user tweeted.
Some users even flagged the app for hateful content and left a message, “Dear @snapchatsupport, flagged you for hateful content. #boycottsnapchat”. Snapchat has more than four million users in India.