Facebook One-Ups Snapchat With New Slingshot App

Instead of breaking barriers, Facebook is building them with its new ephemeral messaging app, "Slingshot."
By ALYSSA NEWCOM 

Instead of breaking barriers, Facebook is building them with its new ephemeral messaging app, "Slingshot."

The app, which is available for iPhone and Android devices, differs from competitor Snapchat by taking a "pay to play" approach.

In other words: before you can open that ugly selfie from a friend, you're going to have to send something in return.

"With Slingshot, we wanted to build something where everybody is a creator and nobody is just a spectator," the Slingshot team said in a blog post today introducing the app.

"When everyone participates, there’s less pressure, more creativity and even the little things in life can turn into awesome shared experiences," the post said. 

While Snapchat has shifted toward making itself more accessible as a an instant messaging app, Slingshot operates more like a self-destructing newsfeed that you can only view once.

After snapping a photo or shooting a quick video, users can write on the photo or add color, just like Snapchat, before sending it to a bunch of friends.

There's even a coveted "select all" button, something Snapchat hasn't integrated. 

Once the friend slings something back in return, both users will be then to scope out each other's snaps and sift through others they have unlocked. However, the photos disappear as soon as they're swiped off of the screen.

If a friend's sling sparks a little creativity, users can send a reaction sling that will open up a split screen, encouraging back and forth engagement.

Slingshot is a product of Facebook's Creative Labs Initiative and was born during a three-day hackathon held in December 2013. 

Sharing everyday life moments, with the promise that they'll fade into the abyss of the Internet, is all the rage right now.

Earlier this month, mobile dating app Tinder added an ephemeral messaging function that allows users to send snaps to all of their matches at once.

The catch: They expire after 24 hours.

As Tinder puts it, "Like real life the moments we experience start to fade, which is why every shared Tinder Moment can only be seen for 24 hours ... so you can be yourself without the pressure of making it perfect."
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