Over 700,000 users want Snapchat to roll-back its controversial redesign

Thomas White/Reuters

  • 700,000+ people sign Change.org petition asking Snap to remove the new Snapchat update.
  • Revamped Friends list, UI changes, and an ad-friendly Discover section have all been criticized.
  • Snap says the update isn’t going anywhere and has warned users that attempting to unofficially roll-back the changes could result in locked accounts.

Snapchat’s major redesign isn’t going over well with a huge number of its users. Over 700,000 people have now signed an online petition urging Snap to roll-back the changes, while Twitter, Facebook, and other social platforms are all ablaze with disgruntled users.

Announced last November, Snapchat’s new look has been described by Snap as a concerted effort to separate “the social from the media”. Following the update, the app physically separates instant videos, pictures, and messages sent by your friends from those delivered by media, brands, and celebrities.

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While, to me at least (a lapsed Snapchat user), that sounds great on paper, a backlash has been brewing ever since the app started rolling out to a wider number of users around the world in recent weeks.

Despite Snap’s apparent attempt to simplify the app’s functionality, most of the complaints center around UI changes that hide or complicate basic features.

The decision to ditch the traditional list-view format and the revamped Friends section – which now lists Stories alongside direct messages – have both been heavily criticized. The Discover page’s advertiser-friendly overhaul has also come under fire. One user dubbed the selection of content as “irrelevant pop culture clickbait”.

As well as the aforementioned Change.org petition, which boasts 730,160 signatures at time of writing, a fake screenshot of a direct message chat, in which “@snapchat” promises that the update would be rolled back after 50,000 retweets, has also amassed over 1.3 million retweets.

…the new Discover section looks like a garish dystopian nightmare fueled by an endless parade of mawkish celebrity selfies, sensationalized news, and sponsored lifehacks

In a statement, given to The Guardian and reiterated several times by Snapchat Support, 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”.

With Snapchat apparently playing hardball, some users have reportedly been trying to undo the changes by fiddling with automatic update settings or using VPNs. Unfortunately for disgruntled users, all of these methods are only temporary, with Snap also warning that unofficial workarounds may permanently lock users out of their accounts or lose saved Memories.

From the outside looking in, I can see how many of the changes would aggravate existing users, particularly the new Discover section which, in my humble opinion, looks like a garish dystopian nightmare fueled by an endless parade of mawkish celebrity selfies, sensationalized news, and sponsored lifehacks targeted solely at a teenage audience – an audience who, it should be noted, apparently aren’t too keen on the redesign in the first place.

That being said, unless Snap does a complete u-turn, the old Snapchat isn’t coming back. It’s worth noting that this is only ‘Snapchat 2.0’ though, and there will surely be tweaks on the way in ‘2.1’ – especially to the friend-ranking algorithms which, by all accounts, are completely broken in its current state.

Have you been using the new Snapchat? Let us know your thoughts on the redesign and the ensuing controversy in the comments.

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