Mark Zuckerberg himself is allegedly supervising the creation of Slingshot, Facebook’s direct competitor to Snapchat. After a failed attempt to purchase Snapchat last year for $3 billion, it only makes sense for Facebook to try to eliminate the competition by creating a better product. Snapchat is one of the fastest growing social media apps, a clear competitor to both Facebook and Instagram.
The new app could be released as early as this month, according to a report in the Financial Times. Not much is known about the product, but it seems it will be a video messaging app, in which pictures and videos will disappear after one view. (Presumably, one view means no option for replay.)
In 2012, Facebook attempted a video sharing app, Poke, which failed and Zuckerberg even called “a joke” (or just a really poorly executed idea.) Poke was removed from the service a few weeks ago, potentially to make room for Slingshot.
It is expected that unlike Facebook’s other features, Slingshot will be a standalone app, completely usable without the Facebook app; though presumably not usable without a Facebook account. While Snapchat requires only a phone number for an activated account, Facebook will push the primary users of this service (teens) to sign up with their Facebook accounts. Facebook has been slipping in the teenage demographic for some time, and this could be an interesting ploy to win them back. On the other hand, a Facebook connection can hinder the anonymity and assumed ephemeral aspect of the app.
While nothing is publicly known about the visuals of Slingshot, Facebook’s ownership of Instagram could come into play here. Snapchat offers limited filters, all of which require location services to be turned on. If Facebook offers the large variety of visual effects from the Instagram library, it could give Slingshot an added edge over Snapchat. Because, let’s face it, we all look better in sepia.