D’oh! It looks like Facebook accidentally released a new “ephemeral” photo- and video-sharing app that’s aimed at the legions of users who are drawn to SnapChat’s promise of sending a message that disappears shortly after it’s viewed.
Sightings of the new app came on the same day that Facebook announced it’s hired PayPal veteran David Marcus to oversee its mobile messaging business. Both developments are strong signs that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is determined to compete against a host of upstart messaging apps like WeChat, Line and others that have lured younger users in the United States and built even greater followings in Asia and other parts of the world.
Although, Facebook’s $19 billion purchase of WhatsApp was already a pretty good sign of that.
Facebook has previously tried a “disappearing-message” app called Poke, which fizzled. But the new app has an extra wrinkle that seems designed to encourage users to send more messages. Here’s a description that the blog AllFacebook.com spotted on the Malaysian iTunes store:
“Slingshot lets you quickly share moments — little and big — with all your friends. Shoot a photo or video of what you’re up to and sling it to a bunch of people. They won’t be able to see your shot until they sling something back. Tap on a shot to react, or simply swipe it away.”
Facebook told bloggers late Monday that the app will “be ready soon and we’re excited for you to try it out.”
In any event, Slingshot is another product to emerge from Facebook’s Creative Labs unit, which Zuckerberg formed to spin off a number of stand-alone apps under the Facebook umbrella. The chat app Messenger, though created before that unit was formed, is also a member of that stable. And of course, there’s WhatsApp, which cofounder Brian Acton said last week will continue to operate on a “separate but equal” footing under Facebook’s ownership.