Facebook Officially Debuts Snapchat Competitor, Slingshot

June 18, 2014  |  

After much talk and a false start in which the app was unveiled too soon, Facebook has debuted a rival for Snapchat.

The Slingshot app lets users send disappearing photo and video messages just like Snapchat (kind of) with some differences. Photos sent via Slingshot don’t self-destruct after 10 seconds. Images and videos will disappear once they’ve been viewed and cleared by the recipient, who can also take a screen grab of an image so as to save it before it’s gone.  “Once a message has been viewed by each recipient, Facebook will then delete it from its servers after a seven-day grace period,” reports Mashable.

The Verge says the app is more than just a “clone” of Snapchat, offering the option to send a photo or video to all of a person’s friends at once, something Snapchat users have asked for.

There is one drawback. You must respond with an image or video in order to “unlock” those you receive. So if you get a message from a friend, you will have to send a message back to that friend prior to opening what they sent you. Sounds kinda cumbersome–and a tricky way for Facebook to get users to share more frequently. In fact, it’s meant to be more like a part of the FB news feed than a message service that you feel you have to respond to right away.

“It’s more [like], I want to share what I’m up to whenever I can, and then they’re going to feel almost no pressure to share back whatever they’re doing because it’s a shared experience,” Slingshot design lead Joey Flynn told Mashable.

You don’t have to have a Facebook account to use the app. Slingshot accounts are linked to a user’s cellphone number.

There was an accidental launch of the app last week, with Slingshot quickly taken down. Product manager Will Ruben isn’t disclosing what caused the the problem but sometimes apps are launched prematurely when developers mistakenly set the wrong date or time zone. The app has been in the works for a while.

Slingshot has been in the works for more than six months. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has his sights set on chipping away at Snapchat, once even threatening to crush Snapchat with another app it launched called Poke, which has since been taken off the market. When he coudn’t defeat Snapchat with Poke, Zuckerberg tried to buy Snapchat for $3 billion, which Snapchat turned down. So will Slingshot finally topple Snapchat? Time will tell.

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