Why have 700,000 people signed a petition against the new Snapchat update?

13 Feb 2018

Snapchat app on mobile. Image: Ink Drop/Shutterstock

Snapchat users revolt as update is heavily criticised.

Just under a week since Snap’s Q4 2017 report, which saw the company make recoveries in key areas such as user growth, the latest Snapchat app update is not going down well with users.

Snap CEO Evan Spiegel himself said the new update would take some getting used to, but he hoped that the rejigged interface would help to reel in new adopters.

Major design overhaul for Snapchat

The redesign is the biggest since Snapchat launched in 2011. The app is now divided into two sections, with media content on the right side and friend content appearing on the left. Snapchat Stories also now appear with individual Snaps and direct messages, annoying users who preferred it the previous way.

A Change.org petition has gathered close to 700,000 signatures at the time of writing, with the number of signatories increasing by the minute. The petition, authored by Nic Rumsey, states: “There is a general level of annoyance among users and many have decided to use a VPN app to go back to the old Snapchat, as that’s how annoying this new update has become.

“Many ‘new features’ are useless or defeats [sic] the original purposes Snapchat has had for the past years. This petition aims to help convince Snap Inc to change the app back to the basics, before this new 2018 update.”

No plans from Snap to nix redesign

Users are criticising everything from the new layout – “all over the place” – to a general dip in overall user experience. One user commented under the petition: “I am signing because Snapchat is my favourite app, me and my friends use it all the time. I find this update confusing and childish-looking and I am considering no longer using it as long as the update stays.”

Snap currently has no plans to pull the update. In a statement, a spokesperson said: “Updates as big as this one can take a little getting used to, but we hope the community will enjoy it once they settle in.”

All Snapchat users will see the update by the end of this quarter.

Daniel Ives of GBH Insights told CNN: “This was a much-needed redesign for Snap as the complexity and nature of the app was shunning older demographics and a major issue for advertisers, which remain the golden goose for the company.”

There are concerns that the update will alienate the app’s current young user base though, and, judging by the negative reaction, it’s certainly doing just that for some.

Backlash against social media companies for interface redesigns is hardly a new phenomenon. Remember when Twitter changed the hearts to stars, and extended its character limit? Or when Facebook introduced the News Feed in 2007?

Many people are trading tips online to revert back to a previous version of Snapchat, but the company warned against doing so.

Snapchat app on mobile. Image: Ink Drop/Shutterstock

Ellen Tannam was a journalist with Silicon Republic, covering all manner of business and tech subjects