Thomas White/Reuters

Update (02/22): Snap has responded to an online petition requesting that it roll back a recent Snapchat update. The Change.org petition currently has more than 1.2 million signatures and was created following the rollout of a controversial interface redesign.

Snap made the statement on Change.org (via The Verge) and you can read it below.

We hear you, and appreciate that you took the time to let us know how you feel. We completely understand the new Snapchat has felt uncomfortable for many.

By putting everything from your friends in one place, our goal was to make it easier to connect with the people you care about most. The new Friends page will adapt to you and get smarter over time, reflecting who you’re most likely to be Snapping with at that moment. This same personalization is also true of the new Discover, which will adapt to you the more that you use it.

Beginning soon on iOS, and with Android in the coming weeks, we are introducing tabs in Friends and Discover, which will make it easier to find the Stories that you want, when you want them. Once you receive the update, you’ll be able to sort things like Stories, Group Chats, and Subscriptions, allowing you to further customize your own experience on the app.

This new foundation is just the beginning, and we will always listen closely to find new ways to make the service better for everyone. We are grateful for your enthusiasm and creativity. We are very excited for what’s ahead.

Snap acknowledges the frustration that many of its users are currently feeling but it looks like the update is here to stay. It says the new design is “just the beginning,” though it will introduce new features in the coming weeks to make the interface easier to navigate.

Last week, Snap CEO Evan Spiegel said after spending a couple of months with the design he felt “way more attached to the service.” Keeping users coming back to Snapchat will always be the company’s ultimate goal, whether a million users like it or not.

Besides, the views of a million or so fans may not cause much of a headache when it has another 186 million daily active users anyway.

Original coverage (02/13): 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 the 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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