Facebook Launches Snapchat Competitor Poke - Will It Turn Into A Sexting Tool?

By Alexandra Burlacu email: a.burlacu@mobilenapps.com | Dec 23, 2012 09:54 AM EST

Facebook has released a new standalone mobile application called Poke, providing its users with a new way to chat with friends in a Snapchat-like manner.

While Facebook has had a "poke" feature in place since 2004, the standalone app brings a "new poke experience for mobile," according to the social networking company. Basically, the app allows users to send photos, videos, or text messages to Facebook friends, and that content has an "expiration date." This means that said content will only be visible for a previously set amount of time, after which it will disappear.

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"You can poke an individual friend or several at once," Facebook explained on Friday, Dec. 20, in a blog post announcing the new app. "Each message expires after a specific time you've set, either 1, 3, 5, or 10 seconds. When time runs out, the message disappears from the app."

The new app's launch confirmed a report last week from AllThingsD, saying that the social networking giant was preparing to release its own "Snapchat-like" app. Snapchat launched back in 2011 for iOS devices, and became very popular particularly for its self-destructing messages feature. Snapchat enables users to send photos, video, text, or even hand-drawn messages that can only be seen for a few seconds.

Just as Facebook's new Poke app promises, Snapchat allows users to set a limit (up to 10 seconds) for how long the recipient can view the message before it disappears from the app. Snapchat has gained a lot of popularity over the past year, but its main feature drew some  criticism, labeling the app as a tool for sexting.

Facebook's app works in a very similar manner to Snapchat, so Poke may just be Facebook's new sexting tool. After all, Facebook users do love to share all kinds of private and sensitive content, and being able to send stuff without leaving a trace could strip many of their inhibitions.

With Poke, users can specify their location when sending a message, and they can also see when the recipient takes a screenshot. In other words, the message will erase itself, but there's no guarantee that the recipient will not snap a screenshot to save said message for posterity. But users will know when this is the case.

Facebook's new Poke app is currently available only for iOS devices, and works with the iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch. Poke is available for download from the App Store, and comes as a free app.

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