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Snapchat under fire after hosting 'slap Rihanna' ad

Pop star Rihanna posted to Instagram on Thursday to call out Snapchat over an ad that asked users if they prefer to "slap" her or "punch" singer Chris Brown.
Image: Rihanna
Honoree Rihanna attends the 69th Annual Parsons Benefit at Pier 60 on May 22, 2017 in New York City.Jamie McCarthy / Getty Images for The New School file

Pop star Rihanna, one of the most-followed people on social media, posted to Instagram on Thursday to call out Snapchat over an ad that asked users if they would rather "slap" her or "punch" singer Chris Brown.

Snapchat users brought attention to the ad, which was promoting a smartphone game called"Would You Rather?" Snapchat later apologized and took down the ad.

"This advertisement is disgusting and never should have appeared on our service," Snapchat spokesperson Rachel Racusen wrote in an email. “We are so sorry we made this terrible mistake of allowing it through our review process. We are investigating how that happened so that we can make sure it never happens again."

While other big tech companies have been plagued with problems caused by the increasing automation of online advertising, Snapchat has been able to boast of tougher safeguards, since its ads are reviewed by human moderators who use a set of rules for what is acceptable on the platform.

Twitter users noted it was particularly insensitive because Rihanna was assaulted by singer Chris Brown in 2009. Chelsea Clinton weighed in, describing the ad as "awful."

Rihanna, who has around 226 million followers across social media, according to measurement firm RelishMix, wasted no time in criticizing Snapchat. She posted a scathing response on her Instagram account.

The artist wrote that Snapchat was not her favorite app and added: "You spent money to animate something that would intentionally bring shame to DV [domestic violence] victims and made a joke of it!!!"

She said Snapchat had "let us down. Shame on You."

Shares in Snapchat's parent company, Snap Inc., took a dip in afternoon trading, falling 4.4 percent to $17.06 in midafternoon trading.

Snapchat, in which NBCUniversal is an investor, has been in a precarious position after its widely criticized redesign, which was slammed by another force in social media: Kylie Jenner. Jenner's comments were followed by the loss of a billion dollars of company value on the same day.

Despite its recent troubles, Snapchat has showed signs of continued growth. The company, based in Los Angeles, reported a total of 187 million daily active users.