Poke, Facebook's failed first attempt at developing a Snapchat competitor, was essentially a direct rip-off of the service. Slingshot, its sophomore effort that launched in June, had one distinguishing feature that saved it from a similar clone status: In order for users to open a message on the service, they had to first "sling" (i.e. return) a message of their own back to the sender.
Ultimately, the feature was built to encourage engagement and discourage lurking. "With Slingshot, we wanted to build something where everybody is a creator and nobody is just a spectator," Facebook said in a blog post announcing the launch.
As we wrote then, Facebook was likely underestimating social media users' collective desire to consume content versus create it. Forcing individuals to respond to a message before opening it makes for a disjointed, strangely high-pressure messaging experience.
So it's not all that surprising that just over two months after Slingshot's launch, Facebook has killed this reciprocity feature.
As spotted by The Next Web, when users send a photo or video in response to one from a friend, they'll receive a message that reads “Sling a shot to see a shot? Not necessarily! After shooting a photo or video, now you can choose whether to sling it as a locked or unlocked shot.”
Allowing users to freely lurk may help the service gain traction, but it also completely negates Facebook's claim that Slingshot is not a Snapchat clone
It totally is now. To be fair, it's far from the only one -- earlier this summer Instagram launched Bolt, its own Snapchat rip-off.