Super-aggro Indians on social media go for Snapdeal’s jugular when they are mad at Snapchat founder. Anger (or is it ignorance?) bubbles over in Indian social media

By Vikram Kilpady

Snapchat is not Snapdeal, why it’s not Snapdeal is an existential question. Snapdeal is an Indian shopping website and app.

Snapchat is this popular phone messaging app in the West that allows the sending of images and multimedia. If Harvard grads started Facebook, Snapchat was birthed by students of Stanford University. But that’s not the point of this piece.

With Twitter and Facebook warring over who grows most and fastest in India, and with Google maintaining a respectable distance from social media after burning its fingers with Google Plus and other previous attempts that flunked out of class, Snapchat is one service which is keeping its head and body well away from India.

Absences make the hearts grow fonder, right? Though there has been no absence in this case, India, its literate cellphone users and the media, tech and otherwise, have all been waiting for Snapchat to land here. Snapchat’s biggest advantage, unlike the Facebook-owned Instagram, is that anything you post on it can’t be accessed after sometime.

Therefore the premium, and the thrill, of seeing a photo of a friend or a lover that will, well, self-destruct like the messages to Ethan Hunt in the innumerable Mission Impossible franchise films that have sustained Tom Cruise into his middle-middle age. But this is not about Tom Cruise or Shah Rukh Khan, for that matter.

Snapdeal CEO Kunal Bahl who has had to face flak after Spiegel’s disinterest and its purported reasons went public
Snapdeal CEO Kunal Bahl who has had to face flak after Spiegel’s disinterest and its purported reasons went public

Many Indians got to know of Snapchat when they heard a friend of a friend say on Twitter or Facebook that its CEO Evan Spiegel said he didn’t want to take the app to India. While this conversation is said to have been spread by a disaffected employee who fell out with Snapchat, Evan Spiegel is said to have told this employee that he wouldn’t go to India because it is a poor country.

Did Spiegel mean India was poor on data networks or because many of its citizens were poor, we don’t know. We also don’t know whether Spiegel was speaking of India before the Reliance Jio launch or with new, fresh GDP figures in mind because those GDP rates are flying off the page what with the stellar buzz of demonetization.

But the unverifiable fact that India was being called poor, and that too, when it was on the superhighway to be on par with the superpowers of the world, was too much for the loyal India defender on social media. It hurt the delicate innards of the troll brigade that has Twittered and Facebooked its way into cultural and electoral history; cultural for making cusswords and crassness mainstream and electoral for making the media think that 140-characters were indicative of one’s political point of view.

The troll sena had to avenge the insult on Mother India, Vande Mataram, so what did they do? While frothing and, occasionally wiping away the unstoppable, unending spittle, searching for apps on their phone, they deleted the first app that had Snap in its name, which unfortunately in India is Snapdeal, an Indian online marketplace app. Snapdeal is about to be swallowed by another Indian shopping app/site, Flipkart.

Therefore, Snapdeal is not Snapchat. Snapdeal’s CEO is Kunal Bahl. Not Evan Spiegel.

PS: This is also the week when a troll who specialised in abusing journalist Rana Ayyub on Twitter lost his job in Dubai and made his way back to God’s Own Country. His current whereabouts are unknown.