Well, that was awkward: Facebook just did a Snapchat of its own, briefly releasing a rival disappearing-photo app and then pulling it.
The company said Monday that it would soon release a new app, called Slingshot, "to share everyday moments with lots of people at once." It put the app out on Apple's App Store briefly on Monday, but that was an accident, a Facebook spokesman said via email. The actual Slingshot app will be ready soon, Facebook said.
The app seems to be an attempt to take on both Snapchat and Instagram, which Facebook owns.
In a couple of ways, it seems Slingshot will work similarly to Snapchat, judging from screenshots that The Verge posted Monday, apparently taken from the App Store. Like Snapchat, Slingshot will let users apply captions to and draw on their photos. Also like Snapchat, it will make photos and videos disappear after a certain period of time.
Also, people will be able to swipe through the photos they receive from their friends. And it appears users will have to send a message back to a friend, or "sling a shot," before they can actually view an incoming message. This could be where the messaging component plays in, by encouraging more of a back-and-forth exchange within the app.
Snapchat has grown to become one of Facebook's most pesky competitors. Facebook reportedly offered some US$3 billion to buy the messaging app at some point last year, but Snapchat said no, thanks.
In 2012, Facebook launched Poke, an early clone of Snapchat. But that app never caught on like Snapchat did, and last month Facebook said it was killing Poke.
Slingshot seems to be Facebook's latest effort to provide a photo-oriented service that may resonate more with younger people who have become bored with Facebook's main service.
But mobile messaging is a crowded space. And not only does Slingshot seem to be competing with Snapchat, but Facebook's own description of Slingshot -- "sharing everyday moments with lots of people at once" -- makes it sound a lot like Instagram, another Facebook property.