Facebook Takes on Snapchat with Slingshot Messaging App

Facebook launched its new Slingshot messaging app for both iPhone and Android this week. The app has been described as similar to Snapchat, although it has one significant difference. In order to see what others have sent you, you need to send a photo or video in response. The free app is meant to feel more like a game that involves active engagement than a traditional social messaging tool, based on the inability of users to watch so-called “shots” passively.

Facebook_Slingshot_App“It’s not just about telling your story, it’s about asking others for their story,” explains Slingshot designer Joey Flynn.

The idea is that once the user receives a shot, in order to open it they need to send the other person a shot. If the user leaves the message unopened for 30 days, the shot is deleted.

“When everyone has to create, there’s a lot less pressure to create,” product manager Will Ruben said. “So we want users to go shot for shot, and have a conversation about what they’re up to and everyday moments.”

Slingshot allows users to sign up using both a phone number and Facebook, and users can acquire connections using both methods.

Facebook’s app is similar to Snapchat in that users can take a picture or video and add white text, emojis, and lines using their fingers. The app also allows users to save their photos and videos to their camera roll, like Snapchat, although this option can be turned off.

The user is then led to a “sling view” which holds a list of friends’ names, where users can send shots to as many people as they want. It also has a “select all” option, which, despite encouragement from users, Snapchat has been adamant about leaving out.

“Once they’re seen, they can’t be viewed again, and Facebook deletes the messages from its servers within seven days,” reports The Wall Street Journal. This is just long enough for Facebook to review any reported shots. 

“We’re dedicated to hearing what people have to say about Slingshot,” said Flynn. “We feel like this is its own thing and not just another messaging app. It’s less about instant communication and more about sharing broadly.”