Facebook launches Snapchat-competitor Slingshot: 'Pay-to-play social media' is here
New app demands that users reply to each other to unlock messages
After accidently ‘launching’ the app last week, Facebook has officially taken the wraps off its Snapchat competitor Slingshot; a new attempt to capture the ‘ephemeral messaging’ market that is already attracted criticism for its ‘pay to play’ mechanic.
The free app (currently available only in the US) lets users send videos and images to Facebook friends or contacts from their phone book (Facebook accounts aren’t required). After taking a photo users can draw on the image or add text of up to 140 characters; there's no timer to set on messages but as soon as users move on to the next onew they disappear.
However, Slingshot also introduces a new mechanism that means that users can’t see a photo sent to them until they send one back. Images are shown only as pixelated previews and recipients have to reply to unlock the message – something that Facebook thinks will encourage participation but a mechanism that early users are less saure about.
“With Slingshot, we wanted to build something where everybody is a creator and nobody is just a spectator,” wrote the app’s creators in a press release. “When everyone participates, there’s less pressure, more creativity and even the little things in life can turn into awesome shared experiences.”
The app lets users 'react' to photos by sending back quick selfies. Image: Slingshot
However, initial reports suggest that the ‘reply to view feature might be too coercive. One user commented that “the unlock twist on Slingshot is super annoying. Forced engagement tricks drive users to leave," while another complained that he was "stuck in an infinite loop of bad 30 something dude selfies."
Speaking to technology site The Verge, Slingshot designer Joey Flynn described the app's mechanic as “pay-to-play,” adding that users shouldn’t think of it as a messaging tool but as a personalised version of Facebook’s news feeds – stripping out automatically-generated notifications and shared links in favour of pure this-is-what-I’m-up-to news.
Users have praised the app’s smooth animation and its imaginative use of sound effects (when you’re drawing on an image for example you get squeaky-marker noises and a jangly background theme) but other features are lacking: unlike Snapchat the app doesn’t tell users when recipients take a screenshot of their message - a possible barrier on sharing more candid messages.
The app reiterates Facebook’s ambition to dominate the mobile market at whatever costs, but its use of pay-to-play messaging might confirm the public’s more cynical views of social media.
Slingshot's sharing mechanism is novel, but it also makes explicit the fact that interactions online are controlled by the currency of attention. Using the app is a demand that people interact with you before you interact with them – but does anyone really want to be forced to be friendly?
Life & Style blogs
Men in tights: getting to the bottom of the latest trend
Night Nurse could put drivers over new drug limit
Snapchat removed the Best Friends list feature and 'stalkers' are upset
Baldness could soon be treated using stem cells, scientists hope
From plus-size models to athletic silhouettes, meet the models changing the fashion industry right now
9 reasons Greece's experiment with the radical left is doomed to failure
Have we reached 'peak food'? Shortages loom as global production rates slow
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
Liberal Democrat minister defends comments suggesting immigration causes pub closures
King Abdullah dead: We can't afford not to hold Saudi Arabia's royals to account
- 1 Venezuela Expo Tattoo 2015: Extreme body art from 'Vampire Woman' to 109mm earlobes
- 3 Ball pool for adults opens in London
- 4 Amal Clooney gives excellent response to fashion question at European Court of Human Rights
iJobs Gadgets & Tech
£6240 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is a well established websit...
£40000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...
£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A skilled .NET developer with e...
£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT support company are cur...