It's here. Facebook's Snapchat app. And it's dressed up in a very familiar outfit: It's called Poke, recalling the action that might've been the defining Facebook feature the first couple of years of its existence.
Poke is a dedicated iPhone app, and you can "poke" friends with a message, photo or video that expires after one, three, five, or ten seconds. It is, in other words, a straight-up ripoff of Snapchat, an app that was pretty singular until right now.
Poke is perhaps the perfect the name for a Snapchat clone — Facebook "poking" always carried the whiff of sexual innuendo, and the air around Snapchat practically reeks of it. And of course, Facebook and Snapchat both strenuously deny that's the whole point. Which, they have to — without the illicitness, it'd be a lot less fun.
Still, as Katie Heaney explained, while Facebook's Poke probably works even better than Snapchat on a technical level, it just isn't the same:
Symbolically, the idea of using a Facebook-created Snapchat just doesn't feel as alluringly illicit as using Snapchat proper seems to. Snapchat, with its bright colors and weird little ghost icon and bizarre, often-jokey usernames, feels like its own little world. It feels like a place where you might be able to get away with sending pictures you wouldn't otherwise. It may well be hard to feel the same about something (however similar) under the Facebook name.
You can find me on Snapchat with my new username Snapchat4lyfe.