Facebook Premieres a New Messaging App Called Slingshot (Again)

Alyssa Bereznak
National Correspondent, Technology

It’s baaack!

Following a premature arrival in the App Store last week, Facebook formally announced its Snapchat competitor Slingshot on Tuesday afternoon. The app will allow people to “sling” photos back and forth to friends, requiring that you respond with your own photo to see any message you receive. You then also have the option to post a reaction photo to whatever you were sent.

Slingshot represents Facebook’s attempt to dethrone Snapchat, the ephemeral messaging service that handles millions of messages per day and is popular with the teenage crowd that Facebook covets.

Slingshot gives you the option to react to your friends’ photos. (Facebook)

Strangely, the social media company’s blog post acknowledged the app’s similarity to Snapchat, which Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg tried and failed to buy for $3 billion in November 2013:

“Photos and videos that don’t stick around forever allow for sharing that’s more expressive, raw and spontaneous. We can connect the same way we like to live: in the moment. We’ve enjoyed using Snapchat to send each other ephemeral messages and expect there to be a variety of apps that explore this new way of sharing. With Slingshot, we saw an opportunity to create something new and different: a space where you can share everyday moments with lots of people at once.”

As I mentioned last week, Slingshot’s defining characteristics are twofold: First, it requires the participation of both people. You cannot remain passive in a Slingshot conversation. You must, at the very least, offer a photo of your face, or whatever thing you’re looking at, to view a photo slung to you. Second, you have the option to tag a reaction directly to a specific image (as demonstrated below). The result, it seems, is an interesting composite of both people’s contributions.

As of now, the app doesn’t have a live-video chat feature like the one Snapchat rolled out last week. We’ll play around with it and give a more detailed beginner’s guide when it’s available to download for iOS and Android. 

UPDATE: Now available for iOS and Android!

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