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Facebook joins the race to forget

Facebook builds Slingshot

Snapchat may soon be in direct competition with Facebook. The social media company as announced its new product Slingshot which could be on the app store as early as next month. This release can be seen as part of a general trend of interest toward impermanent information.

Snapchat is an instant messaging application which allows its users to send a message with a time limit. After this limit has passed, the message is no longer visible from the service. The buzzword is ‘ephemeral messaging’ to imply that the majority of such messages are left in the past. The service took off with teenagers, who are a declining audience on Facebook, and the social network took notice.

Snapchat has so far proved a difficult target for Facebook. Evan Spiegel, 23 year old owner of Snapchat made the headlines last year when he declined a $3bn (£1.87bn) buyout of the service offered by Zuckerberg and his cohorts. Since then Facebook has been working on different methods to rival the service.

It’s just a temporary thing

Some reports question if Facebook’s interest in Snapchat is solely down to the target audience. It may be that some are moving away from wanting to share their personal lives so openly with strangers and acquaintances on social networks. Speaking to the Financial Times Geoff Blaber, mobile analyst at CCS Insight, said: “When you look at how people are using Facebook, it’s increasingly as a means of direct person-to-person communication.”

This movement toward privacy could be said to have thematic ties to the right to be forgotten.

Last week, a case arose in which a Spanish man wanted information on the repossession of his home to be removed from Google search results. The European Court of Justice ruled that search engines should remove information which is “inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant, or excessive in relation to the purposes for which they were processed and in the light of the time that has elapsed.”

After the ruling, reports estimated the number of requests to remove information will increase. Whether as a matter of pride or to maintain dignity, or to hide shame, it seems both adults and young people alike have a new enmity of their digital shadow.

Kleon West, business development director at theEword, said: “If Facebook do launch Slingshot over the next month then it might take a while to see how this affects the use of Snapchat. But why are Facebook so keen to recreate that service? Clearly they are certain there’s a future in ephemeral messages, and clearly there’s a quality attractive to people when things are not too permanent.”

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