Facebook is building a Snapchat alternative called Slingshot

The new app could be launched this month

Facebook is said to be building a video-messaging app to rival the Snapchat messaging service.

The new app is known internally as Slingshot and could be launched this month, the Financial Times reported Sunday, citing people familiar with the work. A source told the newspaper that Facebook may yet decide not to move forward with the product.

Facebook said it "does not comment on reports based on rumors and speculation."

Slingshot will allow users to exchange short video messages, the newspaper reported. It is meant to compete directly with Snapchat, a popular messaging app that allows its users to snap a quick photo or video that will disappear after being viewed.

Snapchat added text and video chat features earlier this month.

Facebook's alternative won't offer video calls but will rather work like TapTalk, an app that lets users tap a friend's profile picture to quickly send a photo or video that is deleted after being seen, according to the Financial Times.

Slingshot has been in the works for several months and will probably be a stand-alone app, the Financial Times said, adding that Facebook's CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been personally overseeing the project after his company failed to buy Snapchat for US$3 billion last year.

Facebook decided to kill its early Snapchat clone Poke earlier this month. Launched in 2012, Poke let users send "pokes", photos and other messages to friends, but it didn't seem to catch on.

Facebook is also buying its way into the messaging app market as a route to reaching younger users. It is in the process of acquiring WhatsApp, which has about 450 million users.

Loek is Amsterdam Correspondent and covers online privacy, intellectual property, open-source and online payment issues for the IDG News Service. Follow him on Twitter at @loekessers or email tips and comments to loek_essers@idg.com

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Loek Essers

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