Facebook’s Slingshot Makes Users Share Photos

If you show me your selfie, I'll show you mine

Facebook’s latest attempt at a Snapchat rival, Slingshot, could also be its big contribution to selfie culture. The new app is being launched by Facebook today on the iPhone and Android, and it represents a fresh attempt at easy, ephemeral picture sharing.

Slingshot hopes to capitalize on the popularity of image-based messaging, giving users a way to share with multiple friends fleeting photos that fly away after being opened. But in order to view a photo, a user has to share a photo, too.

So, you share an image and the recipient can only open it after he or she sends a reply.

Facebook has been trying to develop an answer to Snapchat, which has made disappearing photos a popular social activity on mobile phones. Snapchat users are sharing almost as many photos a day as Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp combined, according to a recent state of the Internet report from Kleiner Perkins venture capital firm.

The appeal is part messaging and part privacy, where digital content is destroyed after being viewed. Facebook has tried and failed at a photo-based social network before, when it built Poke, a Snapchat clone that it recently killed. It also has introduced direct-messaging feature directly into Instagram, and it bought WhatsApp a mobile messaging platform for $19 billion.

Brands and marketers are experimenting with the potential presented by such platforms, where they can communicate more intimately with consumers. Once a brand gets users to follow their accounts, they are free to share.

Taco Bell, Audi, Coca-Cola, the National Basketball Association, iHop and other socially savvy brands are building Snapchat followings, and using it to reveal products or promote events.

Today, Snapchat released a new feature made for special events. It launched Our Story, which compiles snaps from people in a given location to build and view a mass-message, and it will be used at this weekend’s Electric Daisy Carnival music festival in Las Vegas.

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