Snapchat, the popular image messaging app, has received a near-historic amount of backlash following a recent update that significantly redesigned the platform’s user interface. With this major redesign, which is cautiously being rolled-out by the company, Snapchat has added features like a “Do Not Disturb” button and completely integrated Snap Stories within the friendslist messaging page.
As it turns out, these changes were not something the community wanted. Since the update, more than 1.2 million people have signed a Change.org petition demanding that Snap scrap the new design.
The backlash continued with a fake Twitter message created by @isaacsvobodny, where “Snapchat” claims that if enough people share it, they will roll back its highly controversial changes. It has now been shared by more than 1.5 million people – making it the fifth most retweeted post ever on Twitter.
Snap CEO, Evan Spiegel, has since responded, assuring critics that the company has no intention to reverse the changes. In their recent earnings call, he said that “it will take time for our community to get used to the changes, but overall, we are pleased with the initial results and will be making the redesign available to our entire community in Q1.”
At last week’s Goldman Sachs Internet & Technology Conference, he doubled down on his support for the update, stating that “you do need folks to use the product, to communicate with their friends to learn how to better provide that feed. The tech to some degree is a solved problem, the time to… to learn is a hard problem to solve. Even the complaints we’re seeing reinforce the philosophy. Even the frustrations we’re seeing really validate those changes. It’ll take time for people to adjust, but for me using it for a couple months I feel way more attached to the service.”
Although Spiegel blames the initial backlash on a learning curve for users, we estimate Snapchat usage has dropped by around 70 percent since the update, and our friends haven’t been returning. According to an Android Police poll, around 69 percent of users either “hate it, stopped using it, or reverted to an older version.” If nothing else, the poorly timed update seems to have accelerated the exodus to Instagram.
Spiegel’s leadership has been the subject of much scrutiny as Snap has struggled since going public in July of last year. However, the company has since reversed course, with revenues and user growth surpassing Wall Street’s expectations in the fourth quarter of 2017. Shares of Snap Inc. (SNAP) are up over 33 percent year-to-date bringing the app to a $24 billion market cap.