After accidentally releasing it to the world last week, Facebook has now officially unveiled Slingshot, a curious new app to come out of the company’s Creative Labs division. Widely rumored as a Snapchat competitor, Slingshot certainly has an ephemeral element — all of the photos and videos you send using it are easily removed with a simple swipe. But while Snapchat is a messaging service for one-on-one conversations, Slingshot is more about sharing that moment with lots of people at once. In a sense, it’s an impromptu social network that encourages spontaneous communications. But there’s a catch — if you want to see what your friends have shared with you on Slingshot, you’ll have to reciprocate and “sling” something back. It’s perhaps the only social app we’ve heard of that requires 100 percent active participation, and that’s at the core of what makes Slingshot so very unique.
Slingshot was started in one of Facebook’s December Hackathons last year, where employees were encouraged to come up with new Creative Labs apps. Creative Labs, if you don’t already know, is a division within Mark Zuckerberg’s domain that’s encouraged to come up with new and innovative apps that exist outside of the core Facebook ecosystem. It’s a way for the firm to explore new forms of social connections and see what sticks without mucking about with its bread and butter. Creative Labs’ first-ever product meant for such a mission was Paper, a dedicated newsreading app that’s more immersive and visually richer than the company’s primary offering. After testing it over the holidays, Facebook decided that Slingshot would be the second standalone app from the internal startup initiative and a team of 10 people started to work on it full-time in January. Six months later, it’s now ready for release.
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