The relationship between Snapchat and Facebook is tense, to say the least. The bitter rivalry first began when Mark Zuckerberg — the man behind the social network giant — wanted to meet Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel, who responded, “I’m happy to meet you…if you come to me.”
So, Zuckerberg hopped on a plane, flew to L.A. to meet Spiegel, and then proceeded to tell the 23 year old Snapchat CEO about Poke, a new app Facebook was releasing that would let users share photos and then make them disappear. In effect, a Snapchat copycat. Spiegel remembers, “It was basically like, ‘We’re going to crush you.’”
However, Poke failed to beat Snapchat. It didn’t catch on, usage fizzled, and Facebook tossed it away. Though Facebook is one of the biggest photo sharing social networks, with over 240 billion pictures currently on the site, Zuckerberg was still not content. He needed to dominate the self-destructing picture message niche, too. So after Poke had been soundly beaten, he then made an offer to Spiegel to buy Snapchat for about $3 billion. Much to the shock of everyone in the business and tech communities, Spiegel said no.
Now, Facebook has taken another crack at Snapchat with a new app called Slingshot. Though it’s designed to be like Snapchat, there are some key differences.
On Snapchat, users can see messages sent to them by tapping on them, and holding their finger there until it then disappears. On Slingshot though, users can only see a message if they send one back. Until a response is made, they’ll only see a pixelated preview of what’s to come. Joe Flynn, the Facebook product designer, said that this features gives Slingshot a “reciprocal, kind-of-community feel.”
Messages on Slingshot don’t automatically destruct either the way they do on Snapchat. Once a user is done looking at them, they can delete them by flicking them away.
One of Slingshot’s coolest features, though, is that it allows users to take reaction shots. The screen splits in half and lets the user snap a photo to return to the sender. These reaction shots don’t require a reply to be viewed, either.
Though seemingly born out of the Snapchat-Facebook rivalry, Slingshot also has to contend with Instagram, which now features a direct-message feature, and WhatsApp, a unique sharing app that Facebook has acquired for $19 billion. Only time will tell if Slingshot becomes another failure, or the hottest new way to send selfies and food pictures.