Snapchat just got itself in trouble with one of the most populated countries in the world, after the remarks of a high executive got released today. In a lawsuit filed by Anthony Pompliano, a former Snapchat employee, an anecdote is detailed in which Pompliano asked CEO Evan Spiegel about Snapchat expanding into growth areas, upon which Spiegel called Snapchat an app “only for rich people”, and rejecting the idea of expanding “into poor countries like India and Spain”. Pompliano is suing Snapchat over alleged misrepresentation of his time at the company, as Snapchat has called him incompetent when questioned by potential hirers about Pompliano.
When news of this piece of the lawsuit came out, a mass social media campaign began in India under the hashtag #boycottSnapchat. Many Indians uninstalled the app and gave one-star reviews on app stores providing the product. Some trolls have even gone as far as harassing Miranda Kerr, Spiegel’s fiancée, on Twitter over the issue. Hackers were also threatening to leak the data of millions of Snapchat users.
Snapchat has since come out and denied that exchange ever occurred, saying that this was nothing more than a fabrication by a disgruntled former employee. That being said, it is true that Snapchat has noted in the past that users in Asian countries such as India may not provide many users due to the rarity of smartphones and the limitations on fast mobile broadband service. Specifically, Snapchat has been focusing on improving its iOS offerings, while leaving Android by the wayside. This is in stark contrast to the direction of India, where 90% of phones use Android, while only 2% use iOS. According to the company’s IPO filing, the app also “often requires intensive processing and generates high bandwidth consumption by our users,” so marketing it heavily in a country where data charges are high would not be financially sound strategy, according to Snapchat and several analysts.