For many people around the globe, it’s now second nature to take to social networks to express opinions in times of political and cultural upheaval. In India, citizens are taking things one step further by rating apps run by companies they take issue with.
Several Indians left shopping app Snapdeal 1-star ratings and negative reviews after its brand ambassador, celebrated Bollywood actor and producer Aamir Khan, said in a recent interview that he fears religious intolerance in the nation and has considered moving abroad.
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Speaking at the Ramnath Goenka Excellence in Journalism awards ceremony recently, Khan mentioned a conversation he had with his wife, director Kiran Rao:
When I chat with Kiran at home, she says, ‘Should we move out of India?’ That’s a disastrous and big statement for Kiran to make. She fears for her child. She fears what the atmosphere around us will be. She feels scared to open the newspapers every day. That does indicate that there is this sense of growing disquiet, there is growing despondency apart from alarm.
Khan’s sentiments ruffled many a nationalist’s feathers, and incited tweets pointing him to other countries he could move to. Unfortunately, the brand he represented suffered collateral damage in the form of poor ratings and uninstalls.
This isn’t the first time Indians have resorted to low app ratings to register protest and dissent. When ecommerce giant Flipkart signed on to mobile carrier Airtel’s net neutrality-violating free internet service, its app received a torrent of downvotes on Google Play and the App Store.
It may only be the start of a trend, but it’s worth noting because it signals a new consequence that tech companies’ decisions have on their products and how they are perceived in the country.