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#DeleteVero campaign spawned by concerns over founder's past

The social media app has skyrocketed in popularity, but questions about the co-founder's previous experience has led to a backlash.

Anthony Palmer / Getty Images

Almost as quickly as Vero grew in popularity on the internet, the social media app is the target of a backlash over concerns about the co-founder's past and the app's terms of service.

The app, an alternative to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, skyrocketed to the top of Apple's App Store this week, thanks largely to its promise of a lack of ads and algorithms. But questions about co-founder Ayman Hariri's previous experience as an executive of a Saudi construction company has led to a campaign encouraging users to #DeleteVero.

Hariri is the billionaire son of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafic Hariri, who was assassinated in 2005. The backlash focuses on his tenure as deputy CEO of Saudi Oger, a construction company that shut down in 2017 "after years of mismanagement," with at least $3.5 billion in debt and thousands of unpaid workers, Bloomberg reported last year.

A 2016 Reuters story reported how the company abandoned thousands of migrant workers in a crowded, filthy desert camp without months of back pay and with limited access to food, water or medical care.

Users were not happy to learn these details.

Some users also expressed concern about who owns the content they post on the network. Responding to a user's tweeted request for clarification, Vero said users retain the rights to everything they post to the app.

But that hasn't stopped users from trying to delete their Vero account, leading to further outrage, with many users complaining they couldn't simply delete their account, but rather had to submit a support request to have their account deleted.

A Vero spokeswoman said Hariri wasn't immediately available to comment. We will update this report with his statement when he responds.

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