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Snapchat Denies CEO Evan Spiegel’s purported disinterest in expanding Business to “poor countries” like India creates Controversy in Social Media

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Snapchat Logo, VOA

New Delhi, April 16, 2017: A day after Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel’s purported disinterest in expanding business to “poor countries” like India created controversy in social media, parent company Snap Inc denied the allegation, saying no such remark was made, reports said on Sunday.

US-based news website Variety on Saturday 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”.

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But the company denied the remarks reports of which had resulted in the rating of the popular app dropping to a “single star” from an apparent “five star” on the App Store.

“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.

Denying the claims of Snapchat being termed as a ‘rich people’s app’, the attorneys termed Pompliano a “disgruntled employee fired for poor performance”.

The portal YourStory published an official statement from Snap that said: “This is ridiculous. Obviously Snapchat is for everyone! It’s available worldwide to download for free.”

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Meanwhile, the rating of the popular app dropped to a “single star” from “five star” on the App Store.

According to the app info on App Store, the “Customer Ratings” of the current version of the app was “single star” (based on 6,099 ratings) and all versions’ rating was “one and half star” (based on 9,527 ratings) as on Sunday morning.

The rating for the app on Android Play Store was “four star” (based on 11,932,996 ratings).

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.

“First of all, I didn’t even want to give any freakin’ star to this app. Evan (CEO of Snapchat) shows how stupid he is by saying this. I bet 3/4th of his company is run by Indian employees. If he didn’t want to expand it to poor countries, then why is this app free? Why didn’t he put any charges on it?” a user wrote on App Store, condemning the CEO.

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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.

“I was addicted to @Snapchat but I love my country more than this app. Let’s see how you earn without Indians. @evanspiegel #boycottsnapchat,” another user wrote on twitter.

Some users even flagged the app for hateful content and left a message, “Dear @snapchatsupport, flagged you for hateful content. #boycottsnapchat”.

According to a report in Forbes on Thursday, Facebook’s photo-sharing app Instagram surpassed Snapchat in daily active users of “Stories” feature, though the format was first launched by Snapchat in 2013.

Instagram’s “Stories” feature was now used by more than 200 million people every day — an increase of 50 million since January.

On the other hand, Snapchat which launched the “Stories” format in October 2013, had 161 million daily active users in February.

“Stories” feature is an ephemeral chain of photo and video clips with filters and special effects. More recently, Facebook and WhatsApp also introduced the feature, imitating Snapchat.

Snapchat has more than four million users in India. (IANS)

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Here’s Why Sri Lanka Does not Trust Social Media Platforms

Sri Lanka temporarily shut down Facebook earlier in 2018 after hate speech spread on the company’s apps resulted in mob violence

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Sri Lankan military officials stand guard in front of the St. Anthony's Shrine, Kochchikade church after an explosion in Colombo, Sri Lanka, April 21, 2019. VOA

Battling the spread of hate speech on social media platforms especially Facebook for long, the Sri Lanka government on Sunday once again “temporarily blocked” social media from spreading fake news in the wake of deadly suicide bombings in the island that killed 290 people.

In a brief statement, the Sri Lankan President’s Secretary Udaya Seneviratne said the government has “decided to temporarily block social media sites including Facebook and Instagram in an effort to curb false news reports”.

Several users in the country reported they could not access Facebook and its photo-sharing service Instagram, Google-owned YouTube and WhatsApp for most part of the day.

Facebook spokesperson Ruchika Budhraja told TechCrunch that “teams from across Facebook have been working to support first responders and law enforcement as well as to identify and remove content which violates its standards”.

Google did not immediately comment.

“It’s a rare but not unprecedented step for a government to block access to widely used sites and services,” said the report.

Sri Lanka has been criticizing Facebook and its platforms for long when it comes to the spread of hate speech.

The island country in March ordered Internet and mobile service providers to temporarily block Facebook and its subsidiaries WhatsApp and Instagram as part of a crackdown on online hate speeches.

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Multiple apps are displayed on an iPhone in New York. VOA

“These platforms are banned because they were spreading hate speeches and amplifying them,” government spokesperson Harindra B. Dassanayake was quoted as saying in The New York Times.

The claims are supported by non-profit Freedom House which found “hate speech against minorities continues to foment on various social media platforms, particularly Facebook”.

Last May, a coalition of activists from eight countries, including India, Sri Lanka and Myanmar, called on Facebook to put in place a transparent and consistent approach to moderation.

Activists argued that the lack of local moderators a” specifically moderators fluent in the Sinhalese language spoken by the country’s Buddhist majority — had allowed hate speech run wild on the platform.

Also Read- Decide on TikTok by Wednesday, or Ban Ends: SC

The coalition demanded civil rights and political bias audits into Facebook’s role in abetting human rights abuses, spreading misinformation and manipulation of democratic processes in their respective countries.

Sri Lanka temporarily shut down Facebook earlier in 2018 after hate speech spread on the company’s apps resulted in mob violence. (IANS)