Facebook Flirts With Sexting

Jan 4 2013 @ 5:42pm

The social networking giant just released its own version of Snapchat, called Poke, which allows users to send photos or videos that quickly self-delete. Amanda Hess favors the original:

This is Snapchat’s cultural triumph over Facebook: It is a social network where sex is comfortably integrated into a user's wider digital life. On Snapchat, sexual identity isn’t cemented through a series of boxes and menus. User profiles are nearly nonexistent, and even private messages are fleeting (though the app has some loopholes yet to close). That’s a winning formula for teenagers, who are highly invested in exploring their sexualities, but face strong cultural shaming from both peers and adults for doing so. Snapchat allows users to behave sexually without that behavior defining them—not for more than a few seconds, anyway.

While acknowledging its myriad flaws, Mark Wilson offers a defense of Facebook's new app:

[F]or whatever Poke may lack in polish, it makes up for in acknowledging the failures of social networking–namely, that social networks lack one of the most important parts of socializing: The safe spontaneity that stems from the forgetfulness of the human mind. 

The Internet is designed to remember everything, to perfectly catalog and update every piece of information you could possibly need at any moment. And while that’s great for researching penguin migrational patterns and getting the best deal on Bounty Select-a-Size, it’s agonizing for socialization. How long do you spend composing a quip on Twitter? 30 seconds? A minute? Several minutes? How long do you spend composing a quip in person? A split second? Why is there such a difference?

One major problem with Poke compared to Snapchat is Facebook's vast social network: "Because if there’s anything on the Internet that’s the anti-sext, it’s probably the place where your conservative extended family is hanging out." But such self-deleting services aren't only being used to flirt with people; Todd Wasserman previews how the frozen yogurt chain 16Handles is using Snapchat:

If you snap a pic of you or your friends at a 16Handles location tasting one of their flavors, you can send it to Love16Handles on Snapchat. In return, you'll get a coupon for anywhere from 16% to 100% off on your purchase. You have 10 seconds to let the cashier scan the coupon, though.