The advert was an in-app commercial for a smartphone game called 'Would You Rather?'
"Would you rather slap Rihanna or punch Chris Brown?" it read, accompanied by photos of the two musicians.
Snapchat was criticised for showing the ad by people who said it clearly referenced a famous incident of domestic violence between the pair.
American Activist, Brittany Packnett condemned the social media network for approving an ad that "makes light of domestic violence"
In a statement to Mashable, a Snapchat spokesperson said: "The ad was reviewed and approved in error, as it violates our advertising guidelines. We immediately removed the ad last weekend, once we became aware. We are sorry that this happened."
In 2009, Brown savagely assaulted then-girlfriend Rihanna in a car. He repeatedly hit, choked and bit her as well as threatened to kill her. She was left badly bruised with a split lip, and Brown was charged and sentenced to five years of probation.
Several Twitter users posted screenshots of the ad, calling it offensive and accusing Snapchat of "making light" of Rihanna's assault.